Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
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News

New research shows how bacteria sense magnetic field polarity
A bacterium with a chain of magnetosomes - magnetic dipoles orienting bacterium along the earth's magnetic field A recent paper provides evidence for a direct link between two bacterial navigation mechanisms - one sensing magnetic field and the other oxygen concentration Published: 19 November 2014
Oxford iGEM team wins Gold Medal at Boston Giant Jamboree
Some of the OxiGEM team spelling out their 'DCMation' concept The first iGEM team from the University of Oxford has returned home from the iGEM Giant Jamboree 2014 in Boston with a gold medal Published: 11 November 2014
JBC's 'Paper of the Week' from the Berks' group
The front cover of JBC A recent paper from Professor Ben Berks' group has been selected as 'Paper of the Week' in the Journal of Biological Chemistry Published: 7 November 2014

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Athena Swan Bronze Award

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Welcome

The Department of Biochemistry

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, part of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. We are one of the largest Biochemistry departments in the world and carry out world-class research and teaching. Our researchers come from a range of disciplines and work in a collaborative environment on all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry. We hope you enjoy reading more about our activities on these pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

News Highlight

Enzyme from ocean bacteria reveals a unique catalytic cofactor

A serendipitous finding by Oxford researchers has identified novel features of an ecologically important enzyme.

The alkaline phosphatase PhoX is important for bacterial phosphate acquisition in low phosphate environments such as those found in much of the world’s oceans (pink). The structure of PhoX and of its active site are shown with the cofactor iron atoms orange, calcium ions green, and the oxygen atom red. A phosphate ion bound at the active site is shown in stick representation

The alkaline phosphatase PhoX is important for bacterial phosphate acquisition in low phosphate environments such as those found in much of the world’s oceans (pink). The structure of PhoX and of its active site are shown with the cofactor iron atoms orange, calcium ions green, and the oxygen atom red. A phosphate ion bound at the active site is shown in stick representation † (Click to enlarge)

The findings, from Professor Ben Berks' group in Biochemistry and Professor Susan Lea's group in the Dunn School of Pathology, are published in a paper in Science (1). Principal researchers on the work are Chien Yong and Pietro Roversi.

The group's work on the alkaline phosphatase PhoX, which has implications across disciplines ranging from chemistry to microbial ecology, has identified a new and unexpected catalytic cofactor. Structural analysis of PhoX suggests a novel mechanism of action not seen in other phosphatases.

Phosphate-containing macromolecules and metabolites are essential components in all living cells. Under conditions of phosphate deficiency, microorganisms produce alkaline phosphatase enzymes to release phosphate from phosphate-containing organic compounds in the environment.

The map is reproduced with modifications from an image by David Bice at https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth103/node/694 under a creative commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license

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Events

Departmental Event 'Children's Christmas Party' Monday 15th Dec, 16:30 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building

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Seminars

Departmental Seminar Alexander Borst, 'The Holy Grail of Fly Motion Vision' Monday 24th Nov, 12:00 The Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute 34 Broad Street, Oxford,
Departmental Seminar Richard Lerner, 'Selecting Antibodies from Intracellular Combinatorial Libraries that Regulate Cell Fate' Tuesday 25th Nov, 15:30 The Howard Schneiderman Room, Oxford Glycobiology Institute
Special Seminar Dr Karen Davies, '"Electron cryo-tomography on mitochondria: structure and organization of ATP synthase and respiratory chain complexes in situ"' Wednesday 26th Nov, 11:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Nathalie Willems, 'Computational studies of lipase-surface interactions' Thursday 27th Nov, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building


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