A major global issue is the rise of antibiotic-resistance in bacterial pathogens or “super-bugs”. In response, new drug targets need to be identified and new vaccines need to be developed. Fundamental aspects of bacterial cell biology need to be understood if we are to take creative approaches to defeating these "new" bacterial pathogens. My lab works on protein targeting; how proteins are transported to their correct sub-cellular location and assembled into functional structures. Our interests are particularly focused at how proteins are assembled into the outer membranes of bacteria: the molecular machinery in these processes is an excellent target for new drugs or phage-based therapies, and the surface-exposed nature of the machinery means that it could serve as a basis in new vaccine strategies.
Work in my lab is aimed at a detailed understanding of molecular machines,including protein secretion systems,cell surface appendages and bacteriophage. Experimentally, we are particularly interested in using new imaging technologies including super-resolution microscopy, cryo-electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy to uncover unique clues to understanding the mechanism by which bacterial surface structures are assembled, and to monitor their function. Our work has featured in International Innovation.
Students trained in this lab become expert in areas of molecular biology, cell biology and microbial biology. The Lithgow Lab Alumni can be found here.