My laboratory is primarily interested in amino acid metabolism. More specifically, we are interested in the aminotransferase class of enzyme. Aminotransferases or transaminases (EC 2.6.1.x) are ubiquitous enzymes that are involved in amino acid biosynthesis, vitamin metabolism, carbon and nitrogen assimilation, secondary metabolism etc. They catalyze reversible reactions by transferring an amino group from a donor to an acceptor. The amino donor is usually an amino acid and the amino acceptor is usually a 2-oxo-acid. In the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, there are 44 annotated aminotransferases many of which are uncharacterized. Using biochemical and bio-informatical approaches, my lab is interested in elucidating the function of the remaining aminotransferase enzymes that are deemed putative from organisms such as; plants, bacteria and algae.
Transamination interconverts pairs of amino acids and keto acids. During transamination, the amino group of an amino acid is transferred to a keto acid, this produces a new keto acid while from the original keto acid, a new amino acid is formed. The enzyme employs a ping-pong (double displacement)(see cartoon above) mechanism facilitated by the co-factor pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) which is bound to a conserved lysine residue in the active site of the enzyme.
Some of the enzymes involved in the metabolism of amino acids are putative or validated antibiotic targets based on the fact these amino acids are essential for bacterial growth and the anabolic pathways are absent in animals particularly humans. The Hudson lab is currently collaborating with the lab of Dr. Renwick Dobson from the University of Canterbury to elucidate the 3-dimensional structure of enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism.
A collaborative project with Dr. Michael Savka (GSOLS) to identify and assess the role(s) of endophytic and epiphytic bacteria from plants such as sugarcane, grape etc is under way.
I am always interested in having enthusiastic and passionate students in my laboratory if there are openings. Students in my laboratory will be exposed to a variety of techniques from many disciplines including; biochemistry, molecular biology, enzymology, microbiology, plant biology/pathology, evolutionary biology, structural biology among others. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about research opportunities.