Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Gerard D. Wright


Russel Bishop, Alba Guarne



Committee Member

Russel Bishop, Alba Guarne


The 20th century introduction of antibiotics made once fatal infectious diseases readily treatable. This taken-for-granted therapy is now threatened by rising antibiotic resistance. The ability of pathogens to acquire numerous simultaneous resistance mechanisms has given rise to an alarming number of increasingly difficult to treat multi-drug resistant infections. When coupled with a sharp decline in development of novel antibiotic therapies, health practitioners today are left with limited therapeutic options. Several alternative methodologies have been employed to find novel therapeutics, including new techniques in natural product isolation and the production of semi-synthetic and synthetic antibiotics; however, there has been limited focus on targeting antibiotic resistance mechanisms directly to create synergistic therapies. We demonstrate the potential in using small molecules to target antibiotic kinases, thereby rescuing the antibiotic action of aminoglycosides and macrolides when used in combination. We conducted a thorough examination of these enzymes including: kinetic analysis; an assessment of phosphate donor specificity; and in-depth structural comparison, including a case study on the structure-function relationship of APH(4)-Ia. This analysis culminated in an intensive screening initiative of fourteen antibiotic kinases against a set of well defined protein kinase inhibitors. From this work, we have identified several inhibitors that have the potential for use in future combination therapeutics. This study illustrates the benefit of a structure-activity based approach to drug discovery, an important tool at a time when novel therapeutic strategies are required.

McMaster University Library

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