Prof Waldemar Vollmer
- Bacterial cell wall structure and synthesis
- Mechanism of peptidoglycan growth and cell division
FEMS Expert: Prof Waldemar Vollmer
Prof Waldemar Vollmer’s research aims to decipher the molecular mechanisms of peptidoglycan growth in the model bacterium Escherichia coli and other Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. His research group studies the activities and interactions of peptidoglycan enzymes and aims to identify novel members of the pathway. They also investigate the spatio-temporal regulation of peptidoglycan growth and the mechanisms of cell shape generation in various species.
Bacteria have a highly complex cell envelope containing the essential peptidoglycan sacculus, a mesh-like layer that protects the cell from rupture due to its turgor and maintains cell shape. The biosynthetic pathway of peptidoglycan synthesis is the target of our most successful antimicrobials, the beta-lactams and glycopeptides.
During growth and cell division the sacculus surface is enlarged by the combined actions of peptidoglycan synthases (penicillin-binding proteins, PBPs) and hydrolases (lytic transglycosylases, amidases and endopeptidases). According to a current model, peptidoglycan enzymes and cell morphogenesis proteins form dynamic multi-enzyme complexes which are regulated by cytoskeletal elements. Escherichia coli and presumably other Gram-negative bacteria also regulate peptidoglycan growth by outer membrane-anchored lipoproteins that specifically stimulate their cognate, inner membrane-anchored synthase.