Sofia Khanum

Doctor of Philosophy, (Biochemistry)
Study Completed: 2015
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Characterization of the secretins, large outer membrane channels of Gram-negative bacteria

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Emergence of resistance against existing antibiotics in bacteria that have especially thick envelope (called Gram-negative bacteria) could have alarming consequences for ability to fight infection with these bacteria.  Ms Khanum characterised large pores in the envelopes of disease-causing Gram-negative bacteria through with disease-causing toxins and enzymes are secreted into the host tissues.  Her research showed that these pores represent a chink in bacterial armour and make bacteria extremely vulnerable to antibiotics and environmental stresses.  She also showed that in certain types of bacteria the stress responses are required for bacteria to survive toxin secretion.  Her findings expose a weakness of disease-causing bacteria that may be exploited in the future to help fight antibiotic-resistant infections.

Professor Jasna Rakonjac
Associate Professor Gill Norris