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

Research
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. Higgins D, Dworkin J. (2012) Recent progress in Bacillus subtilis sporulation. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 36: 131-148.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Dworkin, J. and Shah, I. (2010) Exit from dormancy in microbial organisms. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8: 890-896. pdf
  5. Dworkin, J. (2010) Form equals function? Bacterial shape and its consequences for pathogenesis. Mol. Microbiol. 78: 792-795. pdf
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. Dworkin, J. (2009) Cellular polarity in prokaryotic organisms. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 1: a003368. pdf
  12. Shah, I., and Dworkin J. (2009) Dispatch: Bacteria talk to (some) of their neighbors. Current Biology 19: R689-691. pdf
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Death and survival of spore-forming bacteria in the Caenorhabditis elegans intestine. Symbiosis 46: 195-200. pdf
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2007) Applications of fluorescence microscopy to single bacterial cells. Res. Microbio. 158: 187-194. pdf
  19. Dworkin, J. and Losick, R. (2005) Developmental committment in a bacterium. Cell 121: 401-409. pdf
  20. Dworkin J. (2003) Transient genetic asymmetry and cell fate in a bacterium. Trends in Genetics 19: 107-112. pdf
  21. 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
  22. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Differential gene expression governed by chromosomal spatial asymmetry. Cell 107: 339-346. pdf
  23. 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
Email:  jed2113@columbia.edu


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