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Wright lab researchers develop new platform for antibiotic production and discovery

October 16th, 2020 – Researchers within Dr. Gerry Wright’s lab at McMaster University have created a novel way to identify new antibiotics and stimulate the production of old ones.

The research, published this week in Nature Communications, describes the development of an innovative new synthetic biology platform called GPAHex (abbreviated from Glycopeptide Antibiotic Heterologous expression) for the production and discovery of glycopeptide antibiotics (GPAs).

“GPAs are essential for the treatment of severe infectious diseases, but bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to them,” explained Dr. Min Xu, Wright Lab Postdoctoral Fellow at the David Braley Center for Antibiotic Discovery and Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and lead author of the publication. “Our platform can boost the production of GPAs, while also mining for new, uncharacterized ones that are not expressed under standard lab conditions.”

Using the GPAHex platform, the team was able to increase the yield of the common antibiotic corbomycin by 19-fold. More importantly, the platform allowed them to discover and characterize two novel cryptic GPAs: GP1416 and GP6738.

“GPAHex provides a powerful synthetic biology platform for the discovery and development of novel GPAs to combat the antibiotic resistance crisis,” stated Xu. “Our work also provides a general idea for chassis design to produce other valuable drugs,” he added.

Such innovations are essential in helping to mitigate the current global antimicrobial resistance crisis.


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