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Biotin, Not Just a Biotech Reagent

Dr. John Cronan

John E. Cronan, Professor and Head of Microbiology & Professor of Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present the J.K. Bhattacharjee Distingui shed Lecture in Microbiology entitled: “Biotin, Not Just a Biotech Reagent” at 4:15 pm on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, in 218 Pearson Hall.

Dr. Cronan has published more than 350 articles in peer reviewed journals with a research focus in regulation of lipid metabolism and protein-lipid interactions. In both areas, the organism studied is Escherichia coli due to its sophisticated genetics and simple lipid composition. His research lab has studied mechanisms that regulate the composition of the membrane phospholipids of E. coli and are currently concerned how this organism regulates lipid synthesis such that it is neither "fat nor lean." While E. coli is the paradigm for bacterial lipid synthesis there are bacteria that are missing genes that are in essential for E. coli growth.  Dr. Cronan’s group has also endeavored to figure out which proteins these bacteria use in place of those used by E. coli.  This has practical consequences because bacterial fatty acid synthesis is the target of several newly developed antibiotics.  In addition, Dr. Cronan lab discovered that two key coenzymes, lipoic acid and biotin, found in all three domains of life require the fatty acid synthetic pathway for their synthesis.  

In a multidisciplinary effort involving 15 scientists across three institutions, Dr. Cronan has recently worked to streamline processes to define the activity of hundreds of proteins of unknown function. This new effort is part of the Enzyme Function Initiative (EFI) at the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. This initiative is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and is led by Professor John Gerlt (Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois). The EFI group is designed to address “complex problems that are of central importance to biomedical science but are beyond the means of any one research group.”

Dr. Cronan earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1968 at the University of California, Irvine. His postdoctoral work was in the field of Biochemistry at Washington University, School of Medicine. Dr. Cronan is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign