Dr. Jonathan Dworkin is pictured
Associate Professor
701 W. 168 St., 12th Floor, HHSC 1218
New York
Office Phone: 
(212) 342 3731
(212) 305-1468
Short Research Description: 

Bacterial models for biological shape and pattern formation

Full Research Description: 

We are interested in how dormant cells of various bacteria (B. subtilis, M. tuberculosis, and M. luteus) re-initiate growth and we have identified a well-conserved, eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase that is essential for these bacteria to exit dormancy in response to muropeptides generated by growing bacteria. A target of this kinase is Elongation Factor G (EF-G), the essential GTPase regulating translation, and we are examining how this phosphorylation changes the activity of this protein. In addition, we are examining the role of this kinase in antibiotic resistance and survival during stationary phase in B. subtilis, M. luteus and S. aureus.

The lab is also interested in peptidoglycan synthesis and we are focusing on two issues. First, we would like to understand how the peptidoglycan precursor (Lipid II) gets translocated across the cytoplasmic membrane, and we have developed several novel biochemical assays to get at this mechanism. Second, we are interested in interactions between proteins involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis and how they are targeted to different locations in the cell, depending on the growth phase of the cell.

Representative Publications: 
  • Dworkin, J. (2015) Ser/Thr phosphorylation as a regulatory mechanism in bacteria. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 24C: 47-52.
  • Dworkin, J. (2014) The medium is the message: interspecies and interkingdom signaling by peptidoglycan and related bacterial glycans. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 68: 137-154.
  • Dworkin, J. (2014) Protein targeting during sporulation. In The Bacterial Spore: From Molecules to Systems, Driks, A. and Eichenberger, P., Eds. ASM Press.
  • Squeglia, F., Marchetti, R., Ruggiero, A., Lanzetta, R., Marasco, D., Dworkin, J., Pethoukov, M., Molinaro, A., Berisio, R. and Silipo, A. (2012) Chemical basis of peptidoglycan discrimination by PrkC, a key kinase Involved in bacterial resuscitation from dormancy. J. Amer. Chem. Soc.133: 20676-20679.
  • Higgins D, Dworkin J. (2012) Recent progress in Bacillus subtilis sporulation. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 36: 131-148.
  • Laaberki, M-H., Pfeffer, J., Clarke, A. and Dworkin J. (2011) O-acetylation of peptidoglycan is required for proper cell separation and S-layer anchoring in Bacillus anthracis. J. Biol Chem286: 5278-5288. [pdf]
  • Pereira, S., Goss, L., and Dworkin, J. (2011) Eukaryote-like Ser/Thr kinases and phosphatases in bacteria. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 75: 1-21. [pdf]
  • Dworkin, J. and Shah, I. (2010) Exit from dormancy in microbial organisms. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8: 890-896.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin, J. (2010) Form equals function? Bacterial shape and its consequences for pathogenesis. Mol. Microbiol. 78: 792-795.  [pdf]
  • Fay, A., Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Interactions between late-acting proteins required for peptidoglycan synthesis in sporulation. J. Mol. Biol. 399: 547-561.  [pdf]
  • Meyer, P., Gutierez, J., Pogliano, K. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Cell wall synthesis is necessary for membrane dynamics during sporulation of Bacillus subtilis. Mol. Microbiol. 76: 956-970.  [pdf]
  • Shah, I.M. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Induction and regulation of a secreted peptidoglycan hydrolase by a membrane Ser/Thr kinase that detects muropeptides. Mol. Microbiol. 75: 1232-1243.  [pdf]
  • Fay, A. and Dworkin, J. (2009) B. subtilis homologs of the putative Lipid II flippase E. coli MurJ (MviN) are not essential. J. Bacteriol. 191: 6020-6028. (Cited by Faculty of 1000)  [pdf]
  • Eldar, A., Chary, V., Xenopoulos, P., Fontes, M.E., Loson, O.C., Dworkin, J., Piggot, P. and Elowitz, M. (2009) Partial penetrance facilitates developmental evolution in bacteria. Nature460: 510-515.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin, J. (2009) Cellular polarity in prokaryotic organisms. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol.1: a003368.  [pdf]
  • Shah, I., and Dworkin J. (2009) Dispatch: Bacteria talk to (some) of their neighbors. Current Biology 19: R689-691.  [pdf]
  • Shah, I.M., Laaberki, M-H, Popham, D.L. Dworkin, J. (2008) A eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase signals bacteria to exit dormancy in response to peptidoglycan fragments. Cell 135: 486-497.  [pdf]
  • Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) The role of spore coat proteins in the resistance of B. subtilis spores to C. elegans predation. J. Bacteriol. 190: 6197-6204.  [pdf]
  • Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Death and survival of spore-forming bacteria in theCaenorhabditis elegans intestine. Symbiosis 46: 195-200.  [pdf]
  • Real, G., Fay, A., Eldar, A., Pinto, S.M., Henriques, A.O. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Determinants for the subcellular localization and function of a non-essential SEDS protein. J. Bacteriol. 190:363-376.  [pdf]
  • Suel, G., Kulkarni, R.P., Dworkin, J., Garcia-Ojalvo, J. and Elowitz, M. (2007) Tunability and noise dependence in differentiation dynamics. Science 315: 316-9.  [pdf]
  • Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2007) Applications of fluorescence microscopy to single bacterial cells. Res. Microbio. 158: 187-194.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin, J. and Losick, R. (2005) Developmental committment in a bacterium. Cell 121: 401-409.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin J. (2003) Transient genetic asymmetry and cell fate in a bacterium. Trends in Genetics19: 107-112.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2002) Does RNA polymerase help drive chromosome segregation in bacteria? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99: 14089-14094.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Differential gene expression governed by chromosomal spatial asymmetry. Cell 107: 339-346.  [pdf]
  • Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Linking nutritional status to gene activation and development.Genes Dev. 15: 1051-1055.

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