Associate Professor Jonathan Dworkin   Phone : 212-342-3731   Lab Phone : 212-305-0316  Fax : 212-305-1468   Email :

Associate Professor Jonathan Dworkin
Phone: 212-342-3731
Lab Phone: 212-305-0316
Fax: 212-305-1468

Jonathan Dworkin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Ph.D., Rockefeller University

We are interested in how dormant cells of various bacteria (B. subtilis, M. tuberculosis, and M. luteus) re-initiate growth and we have identified a well-conserved, eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase that is essential for these bacteria to exit dormancy in response to muropeptides generated by growing bacteria. A target of this kinase is Elongation Factor G (EF-G), the essential GTPase regulating translation, and we are examining how this phosphorylation changes the activity of this protein. In addition, we are examining the role of this kinase in antibiotic resistance and survival during stationary phase in B. subtilis, M. luteus and S. aureus.

The lab is also interested in peptidoglycan synthesis and we are focusing on two issues. First, we would like to understand how the peptidoglycan precursor (Lipid II) gets translocated across the cytoplasmic membrane, and we have developed several novel biochemical assays to get at this mechanism. Second, we are interested in interactions between proteins involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis and how they are targeted to different locations in the cell, depending on the growth phase of the cell.


Selected Publications

  1. Dworkin, J. (2018) Detection of fungal and bacterial carbohydrates: Do the similar structures of chitin and peptidoglycan play a role in immune dysfunction? PLoS Pathog. 14: e1007271.

  2. Rajagopalan, K. and Dworkin, J. (2018) Identification and biochemical characterization of a novel PP2C-like Ser/Thr phosphatase in E. coli. J. Bacteriol. 200: e00225-18.

  3. Libby, E.A. and Dworkin, J. (2017) Habits of highly effective biofilms: Ion signaling. Molecular Cell 66: 1.

  4. Sarkar, S., Libby, E.A., Pidgeon, S.E., Dworkin, J. and Pires, M.M. (2016) In vivo probe of Lipid II-interacting proteins. Angewandte Chemie doi: 10.1002/anie.201603441.

  5. Sturm, A. and Dworkin, J. (2015) Phenotypic diversity as a mechanism to exit dormancy. Current Biology 25: 1-6. (Cited in Dispatch, Current Biology 25: 45-47.)

  6. Libby, E. A., L.A. Goss and Dworkin, J. (2015) The eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase PrkC regulates the essential WalRK two-component system in Bacillus subtilis. PLoS Genetics 11: e1005275.

  7. Pereira, S.P.P., Gonzalez, R. and Dworkin, J. (2015) Protein synthesis during cellular quiescence is inhibited by phosphorylation of a translational elongation factor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112: e3274-3281.

  8. Dworkin, J. (2015) Ser/Thr phosphorylation as a regulatory mechanism in bacteria. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 24C: 47-52.

  9. Dworkin, J. (2014) The medium is the message: interspecies and interkingdom signaling by peptidoglycan and related bacterial glycans. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 68: 137-154.

  10. Dworkin, J. (2014) Protein targeting during sporulation. In The Bacterial Spore: From Molecules to Systems, Driks, A. and Eichenberger, P., Eds. ASM Press.

  11. Squeglia, F., Marchetti, R., Ruggiero, A., Lanzetta, R., Marasco, D., Dworkin, J., Pethoukov, M., Molinaro, A., Berisio, R. and Silipo, A. (2012) Chemical basis of peptidoglycan discrimination by PrkC, a key kinase Involved in bacterial resuscitation from dormancy. J. Amer. Chem. Soc.133: 20676-20679.

  12. Higgins D, Dworkin J. (2012) Recent progress in Bacillus subtilis sporulation. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 36: 131-148.

  13. Laaberki, M-H., Pfeffer, J., Clarke, A. and Dworkin J. (2011) O-acetylation of peptidoglycan is required for proper cell separation and S-layer anchoring in Bacillus anthracis. J. Biol Chem286: 5278-5288. [Download PDF]

  14. Pereira, S., Goss, L., and Dworkin, J. (2011) Eukaryote-like Ser/Thr kinases and phosphatases in bacteria. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 75: 1-21. [Download PDF]

  15. Dworkin, J. and Shah, I. (2010) Exit from dormancy in microbial organisms. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8: 890-896. [Download PDF]

  16. Dworkin, J. (2010) Form equals function? Bacterial shape and its consequences for pathogenesis. Mol. Microbiol. 78: 792-795. [Download PDF]

  17. Fay, A., Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Interactions between late-acting proteins required for peptidoglycan synthesis in sporulation. J. Mol. Biol. 399: 547-561. [Download PDF]

  18. Meyer, P., Gutierez, J., Pogliano, K. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Cell wall synthesis is necessary for membrane dynamics during sporulation of Bacillus subtilis. Mol. Microbiol. 76: 956-970. [Download PDF]

  19. Shah, I.M. and Dworkin, J. (2010) Induction and regulation of a secreted peptidoglycan hydrolase by a membrane Ser/Thr kinase that detects muropeptides. Mol. Microbiol. 75: 1232-1243. [Download PDF]

  20. Fay, A. and Dworkin, J. (2009) B. subtilis homologs of the putative Lipid II flippase E. coli MurJ (MviN) are not essential. J. Bacteriol. 191: 6020-6028. (Cited by Faculty of 1000) [Download PDF]

  21. Eldar, A., Chary, V., Xenopoulos, P., Fontes, M.E., Loson, O.C., Dworkin, J., Piggot, P. and Elowitz, M. (2009) Partial penetrance facilitates developmental evolution in bacteria. Nature460: 510-515. [Download PDF]

  22. Dworkin, J. (2009) Cellular polarity in prokaryotic organisms. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol.1: a003368. [Download PDF]

  23. Shah, I., and Dworkin J. (2009) Dispatch: Bacteria talk to (some) of their neighbors. Current Biology 19: R689-691. [Download PDF]

  24. Shah, I.M., Laaberki, M-H, Popham, D.L. Dworkin, J. (2008) A eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr kinase signals bacteria to exit dormancy in response to peptidoglycan fragments. Cell 135: 486-497. [Download PDF]

  25. Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) The role of spore coat proteins in the resistance of B. subtilis spores to C. elegans predation. J. Bacteriol. 190: 6197-6204. [Download PDF]

  26. Laaberki, M-H. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Death and survival of spore-forming bacteria in the Caenorhabditis elegans intestine. Symbiosis 46: 195-200. [Download PDF]

  27. Real, G., Fay, A., Eldar, A., Pinto, S.M., Henriques, A.O. and Dworkin, J. (2008) Determinants for the subcellular localization and function of a non-essential SEDS protein. J. Bacteriol. 190: 363-376.

  28. Suel, G., Kulkarni, R.P., Dworkin, J., Garcia-Ojalvo, J. and Elowitz, M. (2007) Tunability and noise dependence in differentiation dynamics. Science 315: 316-9. [Download PDF]

  29. Meyer, P. and Dworkin, J. (2007) Applications of fluorescence microscopy to single bacterial cells. Res. Microbio. 158: 187-194. [Download PDF]

  30. Dworkin, J. and Losick, R. (2005) Developmental committment in a bacterium. Cell 121: 401-409. [Download PDF]

  31. Dworkin J. (2003) Transient genetic asymmetry and cell fate in a bacterium. Trends in Genetics 19: 107-112. [Download PDF]

  32. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2002) Does RNA polymerase help drive chromosome segregation in bacteria? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99: 14089-14094. [Download PDF]

  33. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Differential gene expression governed by chromosomal spatial asymmetry. Cell 107: 339-346. [Download PDF]

  34. Dworkin J. and Losick R. (2001) Linking nutritional status to gene activation and development. Genes Dev. 15: 1051-1055.