Multidrug-resistant bacteria pose a grave threat to global health, food security, and development (WHO). Resistance to antibiotics spreads via a process called bacterial conjugation, a horizontal gene transfer process between bacteria. This process is facilitated by Type 4 Secretion Systems (T4SSs); large protein machineries that highly efficiently transfer DNA and proteins from a bacterial donor cell into a recipient cell. T4SSs are major drivers of antibiotic resistance transfer in bacteria, and are present in many pathogens that have been identified in nosocomial (hospital) infections worldwide. Initial experiments have shown that targeting T4SSs with inhibitors can greatly decrease the bacteria’s survival rate during infections and such inhibitors are thus promising new drug targets. Despite this, only a couple of T4SS model systems have been studied structurally or biochemically, and they are all from Gram-negative bacteria. This while Gram-positive bacteria stand for a majority of the nosocomial infections.
I work together with various other group members to find out more about the T4SS system from the pCF10 plasmid of the Gram-positive Enterococcus faecalis. This is one of the few Gram-positive model systems that has been studied in some detail and we are expanding the current knowledge using various structural and biochemical methods. More info can be found here.
Due to my broad intrest, I have previously worked in a variety of fields. During my first 4 years at Umeå university, I have investigated the Fe-S cluster that is present in DNA polymerase epsilon as a postdoc in the group of Erik Johansson. Prior to that, I studied proton transfer in a heme copper oxidase during an earlier Postdoc at Stockholm University. My PhD research was focused around the discovery and initial characterization of ECF-type ABC transporters in the membrane enzymology group at the University in Groningen, the Netherlands. You can find my complete publication list in Pubmed or via ORCID iD.
I'm also active in science communication & outreach. For more information about me and my research, please check out my personal webpage. You can also view my page on Researchgate, LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @Josy_terBeek.