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Department of Pharmacology

Houston, Texas

BCM students are involved in research.
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Timothy Palzkill, Ph.D.

Photo Timothy Palskill, Ph.D.

Cullen Trust for Higher Education Academic Chair

Chair, Department of Pharmacology

Professor, Departments of Pharmacology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Education and Awards

  • B.S., 1983, Biology, Creighton University
  • Ph.D., 1988, Genetics, University of Iowa
  • Postdoctoral Training, 1988-1990, Genentech Inc.
  • Postdoctoral Training, 1990-1991, Stanford University
  • MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 2001
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

Research Interests:

Role of beta-lactamase Mutations in Antibiotic Resistance

This protein structure and function project is concentrated on how mutations can alter the substrate specificity and thus the evolution of b-lactamase enzymes. b-lactam antibiotics, such as the penicillins and cephalosporins, are among the most often used antimicrobial agents. Because of their widespread use, bacterial resistance to these antibiotics has become an increasing problem. The most common mechanism of resistance is the production of b-lactamases. The b-lactamase enzyme provides resistance by catalyzing the hydrolysis of the penicillins and cephalosporins to inactive products. Because of the strong selective pressure of antibiotic therapy, b-lactamases evolve rapidly by acquiring amino acid substitutions that allow the enzymes to degrade newly developed penicillins and cephalosporins.

We are using in vitro mutagenesis to randomize the coding sequences of b-lactamases to create libraries of mutants that contain all possible amino acid substitutions for the region randomized. The random libraries are screened for mutations that alter the substrate specificity of the enzymes and the relevant mutants are characterized biochemically to understand how the substitutions change substrate specificity. These studies provide information for the design of new antimicrobials that are less susceptible to the rapid evolution of resistance.

Functional Genomics Study of Treponema pallidum

A functional genomics approach is being used to identify proteins important for the Treponema pallidum host-pathogen interaction. T. pallidum is the causative agent of syphilis. The complete genome sequence of this organism has been completed. During the previous funding period, we have used a topoisomerase-based method to clone PCR products encoding 1008 of the 1031 open reading frames identified in the genome sequence of T. pallidum. In addition, the plasmid vector system used for cloning the open reading frames, the univector system, permits the rapid conversion of the original plasmid clone set to other functional vectors containing various promoters or tag sequences.

The conversion to functional vectors is based on a single step Cre-loxP site-specific recombination reaction. Using Cre-loxP recombination, the T. pallidum clone set has been converted to specialized vectors for large scale protein expression, phage display and two-hybrid analysis. These plasmid collections will be used in a functional genomics approach to i) identify proteins involved in adhesion to host cells, ii) systematically identify T. pallidum antigenic proteins, and iii) establish a large-scale protein-protein interaction network among periplasmic and surface localized proteins.


  1. Zhang, Z. and Palzkill, T. (2004). Dissecting the protein-protein interface between b-lactamase inhibitory protein and class A b-lactamases. J. Biol. Chem. 279: 42860-42866. [PubMed] [DOI]
  2. Materon, I.C., Beharry, Z., Huang, W., Perez, C. and Palzkill, T. (2004). Analysis of the context dependent sequence requirements of active site residues in the metallo-b-lactamase IMP-1. J. Mol. Biol. 344: 653-663. [PubMed] [DOI]
  3. Beharry, Z., and Palzkill, T. (2005). Functional analysis of active site residues of the fosfomycin resistance enzyme FosA from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Biol. Chem. 280: 17786-17791. [PubMed] [DOI]
  4. McKevitt, M., Brinkman, M.B., McLoughlin, M., Perez, C., Howell, J.K., Weinstock, G.M., Norris, S.J. and Palzkill, T. (2005). Genome scale identification of Treponema pallidum antigens. Infect. Immun. 73: 4445-4450. [PubMed] [DOI]
  5. Brinkman, M.B., McKevitt, M., McLoughlin, M., Perez, P., Howell, J., Weinstock, G.M., Norris, S.J. and Palzkill, T. (2006). Reactivity of antibodies from syphilis patients to a protein array representing the Treponema pallidum proteome. J. Clin. Microb. 44: 888-891. [PubMed] [DOI]
  6. Zwiefka, A., Palzkill, T., Han, R., Lukomska, E., Wojciechowski, J., Lukomski, S. (2006). Combinatorial search for ligands that specifically recognize the streptococcal collagen-like proteins Scl1 and Scl2. Int. Cong. Ser. 1289:207-210. [DOI]
  7. Cushman, I., Palzkill, T. and Moore, M.S. (2006). Using peptide arrays to define nuclear carrier binding sites on nucleoporins. Methods 39: 329-341. [PubMed] [DOI]
  8. Holloway, A.K., Palzkill, T. and Bull, J.J. (2007). Experimental evolution of gene duplicates in a bacterial plasmid model. J. Mol. Evol., 64:215-222. [PubMed] [DOI]
  9. Wang, J., Zhang, Z., Palzkill, T. and Chow, D.-C. (2007). Thermodynamic investigation of the role of contact residues of BLIP for binding to TEM-1 b-lactamase. J. Biol. Chem. 282:17676-17684. [PubMed] [journal link]
  10. Marciano, D.C., Kartouti, O.Y. and Palzkill, T. (2007). A fitness cost associated with the antibiotic resistance enzyme SME-1 b-lactamase. Genetics 176: 2381-2392. [PubMed] [DOI]
  11. Rajagopala, S.V., Titz, B., Goll, J., Parrish, J.R., Wohlbold, K., Matthew T. McKevitt, M.T., Palzkill, T., Finley Jr., M.H., and Uetz, P. (2007). Functional genomics of bacterial motility. Mol. Sys. Biol. 3:128. [PubMed] [DOI]
  12. Hyser, J.M., Zeng, C.Q., Beharry, Z., Palzkill, T. and Estes, M.K. (2008). Epitope mapping and use of epitope-specific antisera to characterize the VP5 binding site in rotavirus SA11 NSP4. Virology 373(1):211-28. Epub 2007 Dec 31. [PubMed] [DOI]
  13. Gao, H., Wang, X., Zang, Z.K., Palzkill, T. and Zhou, J. (2008). Probing the regulon of ArcA in Shewanella oneidensis by integrated genomic analysis. BMC Genomics 9:42. [PubMed] [DOI]
  14. Brinkman, M.B., McGill, M.A., Petterson, J., Rogers, A., Matejkova, P., Smajs, D., Weinstock, G.M., Norris, S.J., and Palzkill, T. (2008). A novel Treponema pallidum antigen, TP0136, is an outer membrane protein that binds human fibronectin. Infect Immun. 76(5):1848-57. Epub 2008 Mar 10. [PubMed] [DOI]
  15. Matejková P, Strouhal M, Smajs D, Norris SJ, Palzkill T, Petrosino JF, Sodergren E, Norton JE, Singh J, Richmond TA, Molla MN, Albert TJ, Weinstock GM. (2008)
    Complete genome sequence of Treponema pallidum ssp. pallidum strain SS14 determined with oligonucleotide arrays. BMC Microbiol. May 15;8:76. [PubMed] [DOI]
  16. Titz B, Rajagopala SV, Goll J, Häuser R, McKevitt MT, Palzkill T, Uetz P. (2008) The binary protein interactome of Treponema pallidum--the syphilis spirochete.
    PLoS ONE. May 28;3(5):e2292. [PubMed] [DOI]
  17. Wang X, Gao H, Shen Y, Weinstock GM, Zhou J, Palzkill T. (2008) A high-throughput percentage-of-binding strategy to measure binding energies in DNA-protein interactions: application to genome-scale site discovery. Nucleic Acids Res.Sep: 36(15):4863-71. Epub 2008 Jul 24. [PubMed] [DOI]
  18. Gao H, Pattison D, Yan T, Klingeman DM, Wang X, Petrosino J, Hemphill L, Wan X, Leaphart AB, Weinstock GM, Palzkill T, Zhou J. (2008) Generation and validation of a Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 clone set for protein expression and phage display. PLoS ONE. Aug 20;3(8):e2983.PMID: 18714347 [PubMed] [DOI]
  19. Marciano DC, Pennington JM, Wang X, Wang J, Chen Y, Thomas VL, Shoichet BK, Palzkill T. (2008) Genetic and structural characterization of an L201P global suppressor substitution in TEM-1 beta-lactamase. J Mol Biol. Dec 5;384(1):151-64. Epub 2008 Sep 16. [PubMed] [DOI]
  20. Wang J, Palzkill T, Chow DC. (2008) Structural insight into the kinetics and delta Cp of interactions between TEM-1 beta -lactamase and BLIP. J Biol Chem. Oct 10. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed] [DOI]
  21. Bush, K., Jacoby, G.A., Amicosante, G., Bonomo, R.A., Bradford, P., Cornaglia, G., Garau, J., Giamarellou, H., Jarlier, V., Martinez-Martinez, L., Miriagou, V., Palzkill T., Pascual, A., Rodriguez-Baño, J., Rossolini, G.M., Sougakoff, W., Vatopoulos, A. (2009). Comment on: Redefining extended-spectrum beta-lactamases: balancing science and clinical need. J Antimicrob Chemother., 64(1):212-213; author reply 213-215.[PubMed] [DOI]
  22. Yuan, J., Huang, W., Chow D.C., Palzkill, T. (2009) Fine mapping of the sequence requirements for binding of beta-lactamase inhibitory protein (BLIP) to TEM-1 beta-lactamase using a genetic screen for BLIP function. J. Mol Biol., 389(2): 401-412. [PubMed] [DOI]

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