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Professors Receive NIH Grant to Study Bacterial Enzyme

The $302,000 award will fund the study of a bacterial enzyme involved in the synthesis of the amino acid tryptophan.

Posted in: Research News

IGPS protein interaction
Interactions between the IGPS protein and its natural substrate

Professors Nina Goodey and David Konas recently received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for their project: Investigation of Substrate Specificity, Mechanism, and Inhibition of IGPS, and was funded by the NIH’s Institute of General Medical Sciences through the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program.

Bacteria use the IGPS enzyme as a catalyst in part of a sequence of reactions that allows them to synthesize the amino acid tryptophan and it appears that this process is necessary for normal bacterial growth and survival. Humans do not have an IGPS enzyme and they must obtain tryptophan from their diet. Therefore, IGPS may prove to be a target for future antibiotic agents and deserves to be studied in more detail. Discovery of new antibiotic targets is critically important as the problem of drug resistance is increasing globally.

The goal of this MSU research project is to gain a better understanding of how IGPS chemically recognizes its substrate and catalyzes its reaction. This information will be used to develop first-generation in vitro inhibitors of IGPS. This is an interdisciplinary project that combines synthetic organic chemistry with a variety of biochemical techniques and assays in order to achieve its goals.

In addition to providing funds for equipment and supplies, the award includes important research stipends for MSU undergraduate and graduate students to support them while they carry out their training and research during the Summer months.