Anna Conley
Cohort: 2022

Natural products have been used as medicines since long before chemists knew their structures or mechanisms of action. While we now have myriad tools to study the structures, biosynthesis, biological roles, and therapeutic potential of natural products, countless natural products remain unstudied or even undiscovered. Studying these leads to new antibiotic prospects and uncovers new and exciting chemistry! The van der Donk group has drawn attention to ribosomally-synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) for their potential as therapeutics. Recently, a similar but unique class of natural products called pearlins were discovered through genome mining. While pearlins are not ribosomally synthesized, a precursor peptide undergoes a series of posttranslational modifications, including modifications that have not been seen in other systems. I am researching new enzymes in these biosynthetic pathways to understand the mechanisms involved. I am especially interested in the roles of metal cofactors in facilitating novel chemistry.