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Dr. Laura M. K. Dassama

Harvard University

Department of Pediatrics

May 4th, 2018 – Spring Seminar

Time and Location: Noon in Meyerhoff Chemistry, Room 120

Host: Dr. Aaron Smith


Transport and synthesis of a bacterial natural product

Nature is replete with natural products that are pharmacological agents, secondary
metabolites, and chemical agents, among others. A common class of natural products is
those that bind metals and are taken into cells to fulfill metal needs. Many of these
metallo-natural products bind iron and are referred to as siderophores (iron “carriers”).
Similar molecules that bind copper rather than iron have been discovered recently. The
first of these were isolated from the growth media of methanotrophic bacteria (bacteria
that metabolize methane), which have an elevated copper requirement. The
“chalkophores” (copper “carriers”) have been termed methanobactins (Mbns). Mbns are
secreted when methanotrophic bacteria are cultured under conditions of limiting copper;
they acquire copper from the environment and are taken up into the cell to meet the
elevated metal needs. Since their discovery over a decade ago, the mechanisms that
govern Mbn synthesis, transport, and contribution(s) to the overall metal homeostasis of
methanotrophic bacteria have been the focus of intensive investigations. This work
describes recent efforts to identify and characterize the protein machinery responsible for
transport and biosynthesis of Mbns.


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