We utilize structural biology and biochemistry/biophysics to study Type 4 Secretion Systems (T4SS), mainly from gram-positive bacteria. T4SSs transfer large defined pieces of DNA between cells, and as such are a major contributor to the horizontal gene transfer of both antibiotic resistance and virulence factors between bacteria. This can occur also between different species of bacteria.
In the Ronnie Berntsson lab we focus on gram-positive T4SSs, as gram-positive bacteria are responsible for the majority of the nosocomial (hospital) infections today, and as such lead to both prolonged hospitalization time and increased costs for the healthcare system. More basic knowledge is needed of these systems, both to actually understand how they work and for future development of novel antibiotics.