Heme protein and endospore biogenesis
Tetrapyrroles are sometimes called the pigments of life because they are coloured and involved in fundamental processes of life such as photosynthesis and respiration. Various kinds of chlorophylls and hemes are the most abundant tetrapyrrole compounds on earth. Other important tetrapyrroles such as vitamin B12 and siroheme are present in trace amounts. Heme is the prosthetic group in cytochromes (which function in electron transport), mixed function oxidases such as P450 enzymes (which function in detoxification) and hemoglobins (which function in gas transport, most prominently oxygen transport). One research program of the group aims at a better understanding of how various types of hemes are synthesised and incorporated into proteins in cells. Another program concerns redox-systems involving cysteine residues in proteins in the cell envelope of bacteria, i.e. the formation and breakage of disulfide bonds. Two Gram-positive bacteria are used as the principal test-organisms: Bacillus subtilis, which is a harmless soil-bacterium for which a wealth of information is available, and Enterococcus faecalis which can cause disease in humans and is a significant pathogen for compromised patients in hospitals.
The three main research areas are further presented on three separate pages.