Ribosomes translate mRNA at a rate of about 45 nucleotides per second. Many factors work in concert with the ribosome to keep it running smoothly. Some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics target the bacterial ribosome; drugs are available that target every step of protein synthesis, from initiation to ribosome recycling and rescue.
Our lab is focused on ribosome quality control in bacteria. We aim to identify factors that interact with the ribosome and prevent stalling, and to understand the impact of ribosome stalling on cell physiology. In particular, we are interested in how the cell senses and responds to translation stress during complex developmental processes, such as sporulation and germination.
We use the model spore-former Bacillus subtilis, a genetically tractable, non-pathogenic soil microbe. Using genetics, biochemistry, and ribosome profiling, we will characterize global patterns of translation control during spore development. We will then extend these findings to pathogenic organisms such as Bacillus anthracis. These studies will be conducted with an eye towards identifying new antibiotic targets.