Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost
Searching the Cryptic Metabolome for New Therapeutic Molecules
Much of what we know about bacteria has come from investigations of single, purified bacterial strains in nutrient-rich monocultures. In a natural setting, however, bacteria co-exist in astounding numbers and compete for limited resources. The discovery of staggering bacterial diversity in various habitats, such as soil or the human gut, and the impact of these communities on the environment or the host have highlighted the need to understand bacterial intra- and interspecies interactions. Bacteria use a wide range of small molecules to detect and respond to their environment and to communicate, collaborate, or compete with other microbes. The small molecules underlying this complex chemical dialogue, their functions, biosynthetic pathways, and the enzymatic reaction mechanisms involved in their production comprise the primary focus of our research efforts.
Our goal is to decipher the molecular principles that govern bacterial intra- or interspecies interactions by discovering new small molecules and their functions within a biological context. The pathways and exotic enzymatic reaction mechanisms associated with the production of these compounds will also be examined. Because this group of metabolites has traditionally served as a prolific source of drugs or drug leads, our studies will also aim to identify therapeutically useful small molecules.