Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Columbia University in the City of New York
Jonathan Dworkin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Ph.D., Rockefeller University

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.

Selected Publications

  1. Sturm, A. and Dworkin, J. (2015) Phenotypic diversity as a mechanism to exit dormancy. Current Biology 25: 1-6. (Cited in Dispatch, Current Biology 25: 45-47.)
  2. Libby, E. A., L.A. Goss and Dworkin, J. (2015) The eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase PrkC regulates the essential WalRK two-component system in Bacillus subtilis. PLoS Genetics 11: e1005275.
  3. Pereira, S.P.P., Gonzalez, R. and Dworkin, J. (2015) Protein synthesis during cellular quiescence is inhibited by phosphorylation of a translational elongation factor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112: e3274-3281.
  4. Dworkin, J. (2015) Ser/Thr phosphorylation as a regulatory mechanism in bacteria. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 24C: 47-52.
  5. Dworkin, J. (2014) The medium is the message: interspecies and interkingdom signaling by peptidoglycan and related bacterial glycans. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 68: 137-154.
  6. Dworkin, J. (2014) Protein targeting during sporulation. In The Bacterial Spore: From Molecules to Systems, Driks, A. and Eichenberger, P., Eds. ASM Press.
  7. 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.
  8. Higgins D, Dworkin J. (2012) Recent progress in Bacillus subtilis sporulation. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 36: 131-148.
  9. 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 Chem 286: 5278-5288.pdf
  10. 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
  11. Dworkin, J. and Shah, I. (2010) Exit from dormancy in microbial organisms. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8: 890-896. pdf
  12. Dworkin, J. (2010) Form equals function? Bacterial shape and its consequences for pathogenesis. Mol. Microbiol. 78: 792-795. pdf
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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. Nature 460: 510-515. pdf
  18. Dworkin, J. (2009) Cellular polarity in prokaryotic organisms. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 1: a003368. pdf
  19. Shah, I., and Dworkin J. (2009) Dispatch: Bacteria talk to (some) of their neighbors. Current Biology 19: R689-691. pdf
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Death and survival of spore-forming bacteria in the Caenorhabditis elegans intestine. Symbiosis 46: 195-200. pdf
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2007) Applications of fluorescence microscopy to single bacterial cells. Res. Microbio. 158: 187-194. pdf
  26. Dworkin, J. and Losick, R. (2005) Developmental committment in a bacterium. Cell 121: 401-409. pdf
  27. Dworkin J. (2003) Transient genetic asymmetry and cell fate in a bacterium. Trends in Genetics 19: 107-112. pdf
  28. 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
  29. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Differential gene expression governed by chromosomal spatial asymmetry. Cell 107: 339-346. pdf
  30. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Linking nutritional status to gene activation and development. Genes Dev. 15: 1051-1055.

Associate Professor Jonathan Dworkin
Phone: 212-342-3731
Lab Phone: 212-305-0316
Fax: 212-305-1468

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University + 701 W. 168 St., HHSC 1208 New York, NY 10032 Tel. 212-305-3647