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Dr. Sheena Radford - Building a wall: Molecular insights into how bacteria do it

Sheena E. Radford

Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, UK

Building a wall: Molecular insights into how bacteria do it

Gram negative bacteria are surrounded by a robust outer membrane that is essential for cell growth and virulence. This amazingly complex structure is packed with proteins called outer membrane proteins (OMPs) that have to fold and assemble in the highly crowded OM in order to build a functional cell wall. The OMP biogenesis pathway thus represents a new target for the generation of new antibacterial agents. It contains a fascinating protein machine, called the beta-barrel assembly machinery (BAM), that is essential for OMP assembly. In this talk I will describe recent structural, kinetic and biochemical assays that aim to describe the pathway of OMP biogenesis in molecular detail, including the central question of how molecular chaperones and BAM accomplish the feat of building the bacterial cell wall.

Selected references

  • Lateral opening in the intact β-barrel assembly machinery captured by cryo-EM. Iadanza, M.G., Higgins, A.J., Schiffrin, R., Calabrese, A.N., Brockwell, D.J., Ashcroft, A.E., Radford, S.E. & Ranson, N.A. (2016) Nat Commun, 7, 12865
  • Inter-domain dynamics in the chaperone SurA permit multi-site binding to its outer membrane protein clients. Calabrese, A.N., Schiffrin, B., Watson, M., Karamanos, T.K., Walko, M., Humes, J.R., Horne, J.E., White, P., Wilson, A.J., Kalli, A.C., Tuma, R., Ashcroft, A.E., Brockwell, D.J & Radford, S.E. (2020) Nat Commun, 11, 2155
  • Distortion of the bilayer and dynamics of the BAM complex in lipid nanodiscs. Iadanza, M.G., Schiffrin, B., White, P., Watson, M.A., Horne, J.E., Higgins, A.J., Calabrese, A.N., Brockwell, D.J., Tuma, R., Kalli, A.C., Radford, S.E. & Ranson, N.A. (2021) Commun Biol, in press

Contact: Andrew Atkinson (

Online seminar Only - Link to attend the seminar:

16 Mar

11:00 - 12:00

Online seminar