Dewey G. McCafferty
Professor of Chemistry

Our research interests are broadly based in chemical biology, mechanistic enzymology and molecular medicine. Towards this end our group is engaged in understanding the chemical and kinetic mechanisms, substrate specificity and therapeutic importance of enzymes that posttranslationally modify chromatin, such as histone deacetylases, histone demethylases, histone methyl transferases, and chromatin assembly and remodeling complexes. Building on a mechanistic foundation, our laboratory is also interested in the design, chemical synthesis and evaluation of small molecules to modulate the activity of chromatin modifying enzymes within living cells. This work has recently led to the discovery of histone deamethylases as potential targets for anti-depression therapy. In addition, our laboratory also works to identify and develop novel strategies to overcome bacterial resistance to antibiotics through mechanistic characterization of enzymes involved in bacterial virulence, peptidoglycan biosynthesis, and teichoic acid biosynthesis. A central component of this research is the identification of novel anti-virulence chemotherapeutics and antibiotics capable of overcoming infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria. Our group also works to decode the molecular mechanisms of enzymes involved in mechanistically intriguing reactions from antibiotic natural product biosynthesis. Lastly, our group is working to develop a functional view of the molecular underpinning of initial signaling events in bacterial-induced inflammation, and in turn lay the foundation for the discovery and design of novel small molecule inhibitors of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and related inflammatory bowel disorders.

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