Peter Woodruff, Chemistry Seminar: "Harnessing Enzymes to Synthesize Probes Against Pathogenic Mycobacteria"
Mycobacteria, including the pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis, require the sugar trehalose for construction of their cell wall. Trehalose analogs are emerging as valuable tools for inhibiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but progress in this area is slow due to the difficulty in synthesizing these compounds using traditional organic synthesis.
In this chemistry seminar, Peter Woodruff discusses the invention of a chemoenzymatic method for the synthesis of trehalose analogs that employs the heat-stable enzyme trehalose synthase (TreT) from the hyperthermophile Thermoproteus tenax. He examines how, by using TreT, various trehalose analogues were prepared quickly (one hour) in high yield in a single step from readily available glucose analogues. In addition, he explains data that reveals how several of these analogs are incorporated into the mycobacterial cell wall used to detect the bacteria, laying the groundwork for imaging tuberculosis infections in live patients.
Woodruff is assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Southern Maine.