Helen O'Hare

Personal Details

Department: Infection, Immunity & Inflammation and Molecular and Cell Biology
Telephone: +44 (0) 116 252 2947 
Address: MSB, University Rd, Leicester LE1 7RH


I read Biochemistry at Cambridge, specialising in bacterial proteins during my PhD at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. After my PhD, I continued research in the area of protein engineering in Cambridge and Lausanne, specialising in antibiotic-producing bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. Since 2008, I have been directing research on the themes of bacterial sensory perception and signal transduction, with particular focus on Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


  • BA Hons, University of Cambridge
  • PhD, University of Cambridge


  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry


  1. Rieck B, Degiacomi G, Zimmermann M, Cascioferro A, Boldrin F, Lazar-Adler NR, Bottrill AR, le Chevalier F, Frigui W, Bellinzoni M, Lisa MN, Alzari PM, Nguyen L, Brosch R, Sauer U, Manganelli R, O’Hare HM (2017) PknG senses amino acid availability to control metabolism and virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PLoS Pathog 13(5): e1006399.
  2. Ventura M, Rieck B, Boldrin F, Degiacomi G, Bellinzoni M, Barilone N, Alzaidi F, Alzari PM, Manganelli R, O'Hare HM (2013) GarA is an essential regulator of metabolism in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Mol Microbiol. 90(2):356-66.
  3. Garton NJ, O’Hare HM (2013) Tuberculosis: feeding the enemy Chemistry & Biology 20(8):971-2.
  4. Bortoluzzi A, Muskett FW, Waters LC, Addis, PW, Rieck B, Munder R, Schleier S, Forti F, Ghisotti D, Carr MD, O’Hare HM (2013) Structural characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA polymerase binding protein A (RbpA) and its interactions with sigma factors. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288 (20) 14438-50.
  5. Wagner T, Bellinzoni M, Wehenkel A, O’Hare HM, Alzari PM (2011) Functional plasticity and allosteric regulation of alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase in central mycobacterial metabolism. Chemistry & Biology 18 (8) 1011-1020.
  6. Nott TJ, Kelly G, Stach L, Li J, Westcott S, Patel D, Hunt DM, Howell S, Buxton RS, O’Hare HM, Smerdon SJ (2009) An intra-molecular switch regulates phospho-independent FHA domain interactions in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Science Signaling 2 (63) ra12.
  7. O’Hare HM, Durán R, Cerveñansky C, Bellinzoni M, Wehenkel A, Pritsch O, Obal G, Baumgartner J, Vialaret J, Johnsson K, Alzari PM (2008) Regulation of glutamate metabolism by protein kinase G in mycobacteria. Mol Microbiol. 70 (6) 1408-1423.
  8. O’Hare H, Juillerat A, Dianišková P, Johnsson K (2008) A split-protein sensor for studying protein-protein interaction in mycobacteria. J Microbiol Methods. 73 (2) 79-84.
  9. Gautier A, Johnsson K, O’Hare HM. (2008) AGT/SNAP-tag: a versatile tag for covalent protein labeling. Chapter in: Probes and Tags to Study Biomolecular Function. Wiley-VHC, editor Lawrence W. Miller
  10. Sacco E, Suarez A, O’Hare HM, Carroll P, Eynard N, Jones TA, Parish T, Daffé M, Bäckbro K, Quémard A (2007) The missing piece of the type II Fatty Acid Synthase system from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PNAS. 104, 14628-14633
  11. O’Hare HM, Johnsson K, Gautier A (2007) Chemical probes shed light on protein function Current Opinion in Structural Biology. 17, (4), 488-494.
  12. O’Hare HM, Choroba OW, Spencer JB (2006) Conversion of hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenases into hydroxymandelate synthases by directed evolution. FEBS Letts. 580, 3445-3450.
  13. O’Hare HM, Baerga-Ortiz A, Popovic B, Spencer JB, Leadlay PF (2006) Highthroughput mutagenesis of polyketide ketoreductases reveals a model for stereochemical control. Chemistry & Biology 13, 287-296.
  14. Bali S, O’Hare HM, Weissmann KJ (2006) Broad substrate specificity of ketoreductases derived from modular polyketide synthases. Chembiochem 7, 478-484.
  15. Baerga-Ortiz A, Popovic B, Siskos AP, O'Hare HM, Spiteller D, Williams MG, Campillo N, Spencer JB, Leadlay PF (2006) Identification of active site residues that control the stereospecificity of a ketoreductase domain from a modular polyketide synthase. Chemistry & Biology 13, 277-285.
  16. Cohen HM, Tawfik DS, Griffiths AD (2004) Altering the sequence specificity of HaeIII methyltransferase by directed evolution using in vitro compartmentalisation. Protein Eng Des Sel 17, 3-11.
  17. Cohen HM, Griffiths AD, Tawfik DS, Loakes D (2005) Determinants of cofactor binding to DNA methyltransferases: insights from a systematic series of structural variants of S-adenosylhomocysteine. Org Biomol Chem 3, 152-161.
  18. Cohen HM, Tawfik DS, Griffiths AD (2002) Promiscuous methylation of non-canonical DNA sites by HaeIII methyltransferase. Nucleic Acids Res 30, 3880-3885.
  19. Konfortov BK, Cohen HM, Bankier AT, Dear PH (2000) A high-resolution HAPPY map of Dictyostelium discoideum chromosome 6, Genome Res 10, 1737-1742.


The molecular mechanisms by which bacteria sense and respond to their environment, with a focus on Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Current and past projects:

  • The role of serine threonine kinases in nutrient sensing and regulation of metabolism in M. tuberculosis (BBSRC and European Commission-Marie Curie fellowship)
  • Regulation of transcription in M. tuberculosis (College-funded) Nutrient sensing in regulation of antibiotic production (BBSRC NPRONET)
  • Targeting central metabolism for TB drug discovery (MRC Confidence in Concept- Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics, European Commission network)


  • Bacterial sensory perception and signal transduction
  • Regulation of bacterial metabolism
  • Host pathogen interactions in tuberculosis

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

T: +44(0)116 229 7038
E: MolCellBiol@le.ac.uk

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