Rebeca Roldan ’19 and Other Rhodes College Researchers Publish New Research on Antibacterial Agents

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Chemistry alumna Rebeca Roldan ’19 is first author on an article based on their undergraduate research published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. The research has applications in antibacterial treatments. Co-authors of “Propargylglycine-Based Antimicrobial Compounds Are Targets of Tolc-Dependent Efflux Systems in Escherichia Coli” are Andrea Pajarillo ’18; Jacob Greenberg ’21; Dr. Larryn Peterson and Dr. Mauricio Cafiero of the Rhodes Department of Chemistry; Joyce Karlinsey of the University of Washington, Seattle; and Dr. Elaine Frawley of the Rhodes Department of Biology. 

“I am so honored to have been a part of getting this paper published, and I am especially proud of Dr. Larryn Peterson and the excellent science that is coming out of her lab,” says Roldan. “The experiences I gained and the mentorship I received in that lab, the chemistry department, and Rhodes as a whole gave me the confidence I needed as a young chemist, preparing me well for graduate school and beyond.”

The researchers state, “Incidences of multidrug-resistant pathogens have increased on a global basis, with some bacterial strains now exhibiting resistance to even last-resort antibiotics. In the U.S. alone, at nearly 3 million cases of multidrug resistant bacterial infections occur each year, resulting in approximately 35,000 deaths per annum. Development of new antimicrobials that are not subject to existing mechanisms of resistance is an important goal of current research.”

Under the guidance of Professors Peterson and Cafiero, Roldan conducted research for four years, computationally designing, analyzing, and synthesizing several potential inhibitors that mimic the natural substrate of the enzyme LpxC, which is an antibacterial agent. She also conducted Honors research their senior year. Roldan currently is a graduate student in the chemistry department of the University of Michigan.

Pajarillo, who is now a dental student at the University of Texas Health Science School of Dentistry at Houston, also completed Honors research her senior year at Rhodes. Pajarillo and Roldan’s compounds showing antibacterial activity are the basis of the article in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters.
“Once these compounds were synthesized, they were analyzed for antibacterial activity by Professor Frawley, who was really instrumental in testing the compounds,” says Peterson. 

View the article here.