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Brief Profile of the Awardee


Dr Balasubramanian Gopal

  • 2015
  • Biological Sciences
  • 31/08/1970
  • Structural Biology, Molecular Microbiology, Molecular Biophysics
Award Citation:

Dr Gopal has made outstanding conceptual contributions in the area of transcription initiation and regulation in TB bacillus. This work has implications for the treatment of TB and for understanding development of drug resistance.

Academic Qualifications:
Thesis and Guide details:
Details of CSIR Fellowship/ Associateship held, if any or from other sources/ agencies.
Significant foreign assignments:
(a) Significant contributions to science and/ or technology development by the nominee based on the work done in India during most part of last 5 years:
The nominee has made significant contributions in the areas of transcriptional regulation and molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in bacterial pathogens. His research program essentially focuses on two model systems- the human pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Staphylococcus aureus. M. tuberculosis has only one rRNA operon thus making an effective transcription mechanism necessary for the survival and pathogenecity of this bacillus. The primary research theme of Dr B. Gopal’s work is to understand the physiological changes that govern the transition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis between replicating and non-replicating states. Focus of his most recent work has been on the structural and mechanistic investigations on the transcription initiation factors, also known as sigma factors, from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The structural and functional studies on M. tuberculosis sigma factors provide an insight into the diverse regulatory mechanisms that govern sigma factor activity. Gopal has determined structures of seven out of thirteen M. tuberculosis sigma factors and performed extensive biochemical and mechanistic studies providing, for the first time, detailed insights into the diverse issues that govern transcription initiation in this pathogen (Thakur et al., 2007; Thakur et al., 2010; Jaiswal et al., 2013; Shukla et al., 2014; US patent 8058022 file number 12/560,904). This comprehensive data-set provides an insight into changes in the expression profile of M. tuberculosis under different environmental conditions. This is an important step towards a molecular description of persistent bacteria, the so-called latent phase of tuberculosis infection. The other significant research question being addressed by the nominee’s laboratory is on the molecular mechanisms of multi-drug resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. This study was initiated as a collaborative effort with the erstwhile Sir Dorabji Tata Center for Infectious Diseases (SDTC), Bangalore. Mechanistic hypothesis, posed by structural data, could thus be examined using a repertoire of laboratory and clinical strains of Methicillin Resistant S. aureus (MRSA) collated by SDTC. The structure-function analysis of a penicillin binding protein (PBP4) performed by nominee’s group revealed a hitherto unsuspected interplay between -lactam antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus (Navratna et al., 2010; Srivastava et al., 2014; patent IN-410199-02-US-REG). These data also provided a framework for the development of a cost-effective detector for MRSA strains using titania nanotube-modified screen printed carbon electrodes (Mandal et al., 2014).
(b) Impact of the contributions in the field concerned:
The work on the M. tuberculosis sigma factors has attracted attention primarily due to the unexpected complexity in the regulatory mechanisms of these proteins. The recent finding that multiple regulatory pathways regulate oxidative stress, for example, provides several mechanistic hypothesis that are being examined by the nominee’s group as well as by other mycobacterial researchers. The finding that differences in the expression levels of antigenic proteins between M. tuberculosis and M. bovis could be due to the differences in the redox sensing mechanism is an unexpected observation. Although this suggestion needs to be rigorously examined further, it does raise the possibility that the widely divergent efficacy of the BCG vaccine in individuals can be rationalized. Put together, these studies reveal that the extra-cytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factors determine several facets of M. tuberculosis infection (for example, the latent phase) as well response mechanisms to the host innate and acquired immunity systems.
Places where work of last 5 years has been referred/ cited in Books, Reviews:
(i). Paper Cited
(ii). Book Cited
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The achievements already been recognised by Awards by any learned body:
The Awardee a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy/Indian Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Sciences/Others:
The Awardee delivered invited lecture(s) in India/abroad and/or chaired any scientific Internatiional Conference Symposium:
List of Awardee's 10 most significant publications.
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications during the last 5 years
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications from out of work done in India during the last five years:
Complete list of publications in standard refereed journals:
Complete list of publications with foreign collaborators (indicating your status as author):
List of papers published in Conferences /Symposia/ Seminars, etc:
List of the most outstanding Technical Reports/ Review Articles:
Statement regarding collaboration with scientists abroad:
I do not have any ongoing collaboration with scientists outside India.
List of Patents taken
Total number of patents granted in last five years.
Details of Books published:

Contact Details

  • Molecular Biophysics Unit
    Indian Institute of Science
    C V Raman Ave
    Bangalore - 560012
    Karnataka INDIA
  • 080 22933219
  • 080 23600535
  • bgopal[at]mbu[dot]iisc[dot]ernet[dot]in
23 Jan 2022, https://ssbprize.gov.in/Content/Detail.aspx?AID=506