The second research area is to understand Wolbachia microbiology/biochemistry. The genome for Wolbachia has been sequenced and annotated. Analyzing the genome data has yielded some interesting questions. Of particular interest to my group is the Lipid II biosynthesis pathway, the core molecule for peptidoglycan synthesis. The Wolbachia genome encodes the genes necessary to make Lipid II. However, it lacks several essential proteins needed for downstream events in the synthesis of peptidoglycan (e.g. a cell wall), suggesting that any peptidogylcan-like molecule will be very different from that in other gram-negative bacteria. We are characterizing the functionality of the Lipid II biosynthesis proteins from Wolbachia by expressing recombinant proteins for in vitro Lipid II synthesis and isolating cell membranes from Wolbachia for ex vivo synthesis experiments.

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