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Grzegorz Walkowiak

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Bacterial cell division molecular assemblies as targets for antibacterial drug design

My project focuses on exploiting proteins involved in bacteria growth as targets for novel antibiotics design, with particular emphasis placed on penicillin binding proteins (PBPs).
Virtually all bacteria species contain the essential cell wall polymer: peptidoglycan (murein). Its primary function is to protect the cell from effects of high internal osmotic pressure. Moreover, peptidoglycan maintains defined bacteria shape and is directly involved in its growth and division. Although numerous murein-affecting antibiotics have been discovered and developed, their efficiency drops due to an emergence of multiple drug resistant bacteria. Recently, the spread of resistant strains from the ‘ESKAPE’ group of organisms poses a significant threat to modern healthcare.
The scope of the project encompasses expression of penicillin binding proteins from various Gram-negative bacteria and their functional characterization using novel substrate dependent assays. Since PBPs are capable of performing two distinct steps of peptidoglycan synthesis (transglycosylation and transpeptidation), they are particularly valuable targets for bactericidal drugs. Their inhibition produces an imbalance in cell wall metabolism, resulting in growth suppression or lysis.
In order to elucidate enzymatic performance of particular members of the PBP family, quantitative assays need to be developed suitable for next generation drug discovery. I’m going to employ various fluoro- and radiolabelled peptidoglycan precursors to produce methods for the rational design of novel peptidoglycan synthesis inhibitors.

My academic history:

2013/09- 2017/11
University of Warwick, PhD in Analytical Sciences
Project title: Bacterial cell division molecular assemblies as targets for antibacterial drug design

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Visiting researcher

2011- 2013
Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Research Assistant

2009- 2011
Adam Mickiewicz University, M. Sc. in Biotechnology
Master thesis: “Regulation of human chorionic gonadotropin beta subunit gene expression”

2006- 2009
Adam Mickiewicz University, B. Sc. in Biotechnology
Bachelor thesis: “Molecular diagnostics of human papillomaviruses infections”.