I received my PhD in biochemistry from Queen's University in 2007 where I worked on the structural and functional characterization of heme degradation proteins for iron acquisition by a pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli (O157:H7). In parallel I worked on the lipopolysaccharide transport protein LptA.
Prior to joining Laurier, I was a European Molecular Biology Organization Fellow at The York Structural Biology Laboratory where my work focused on the structure-function relationship of microbial carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes). CAZymes describe families of structurally related, catalytic and carbohydrate-binding modules that degrade, modify or create glycosidic bonds. I continued this line of research, focusing on the characterization of pneumococcal CAZymes at the University of Victoria as a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Fellow. During this period, I was also part of a collaboration involving the structural characterization of receptor-antibody complexes.
Research in the Suits lab focuses on relating structural details of proteins with their biochemical and molecular functions. Broadly this involves investigating carbohydrate recognition and processing and has recently expanded to characterize keystone molecular events propagated by the oral microbiome.
Beyond the universally recognized role for carbohydrates as nutrient sources, complex carbohydrates in the form of polysaccharides, proteoglycans and glycolipids may be considered to be "the language of the cell" in that they mediate many integral biological events. Because of this central importance, research projects in our lab utilize X-ray crystallography and supportive biophysical methods to characterize the interaction between proteins and carbohydrates. Our primary work focuses on long, linear carbohydrates such as chondroitin, heparan, hyaluronan, alginate and pectin, and microbial factors that recognize and process these important cell surface molecules.
A second interest for our group is characterizing the molecular cross-talk between bacteria in the oral cavity as well as the proteins and enzymes responsible for synthesis of extracellular polymeric substance, also known as biofilm.
We are grateful for the funding we have received from the following agencies and partners: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), The Banting Research Foundation, GlycoNet, Mitacs, Wilfrid Laurier University Research Services and Faculty of Science, and Mirexus Inc. (Guelph).
The Suits Lab is hiring motivated biochemists for volunteer, 4th year thesis projects, MSc and PhD opportunities. Interested candidates should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a curriculum vitae, an unofficial copy of your transcript, and a paragraph description of why you want to work in the Suits Lab.
Rice, K., Batul, K., Whiteside, J., Kelso, J., Papinski, M., Pratasouskaya, A., Wang, D., Sullivan, R., Bartlett, C., Weadge, J.T., Van der Kamp, M., Moreno-Hagelsieb, G., Suits, M.D., Horsman, G.P. (2019) The Predominance of Nucleotidyl activation in bacterial phosphonate biosynthesis. Nat. Commun. 10(1):3698.
Liston, S.D., McMahon, S.A., Le Bas, A., Suits, M.D., Naismith, J.H., Whitfield, C. (2018). A periplasmic depolymerase provides new insight into ABC transporter-dependent secretion of bacterial capsular polysaccharides. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 115(21):E4870-E4879. Citations
Cuskin, F., Lowe, E.C., Temple, M.J., Zhu, Y., Cameron, E.A., Pudlo, N.A., Porter, N.T., Urs, K., Thompson, A.J., Cartmell, A., Rogowski, A., Hamilton, B.S., Chen, R., Tolbert, T.J., Piens, K., Bracke, D., Vervecken, W., Hakki, Z., Speciale, G., Munōz-Munōz, J.L., Day, A., Peña, M.J., McLean, R., Suits, M.D., Boraston, A.B., Atherly, T., Ziemer, C.J., Williams, S.J., Davies, G.J., Abbott, D.W., Martens, E.C., Gilbert, H.J. (2015). Human gut Bacteroidetes can utilize yeast mannan through a selfish mechanism. Nature 517(7533):165-9.
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