Bianca Dunn


Facilitating Antibiotic Entry Into Bacterial Cells

Bacterial antibiotic resistance is a global health problem. Resistant strains of bacteria can cause lethal infections that are refractory to current treatments. Alarmingly, drug-resistant bacteria are emerging faster than we can develop new antibiotics.  If we wish to curtail the effects of antibiotic resistance, we must accelerate the development of new antibacterial agents. To be effective, antibiotics must permeate the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria and access vital intracellular processes. Our research takes a novel approach to antibiotic development by improving the way these compounds enter bacterial cells. The purpose of the project is to identify peptides that permeate cells, facilitating the entry of antibiotics. In this study, we employed a selection based on sugar transport to isolate peptides that permeate bacterial cells. A subset of these peptides mediate intercellular aggregation, suggesting that permeation is due to interactions with the bacterial cell surface. We will explore the potential therapeutic properties of these peptides by assaying their synergy with current antibiotic treatments.

NIH UC Santa Barbara Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships UCSB California NanoSystems Institute MCDB