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

Women in Science news
Professor Ann McDermott The recent talk by Columbia University's Professor Ann McDermott was an opportunity to hear not only about her outstanding research but also her experiences as a woman in science. Published: 23 July 2014
Malarial proteins probed in new study
Immunofluorescent 3D reconstruction of fixed infected red blood cells with malarial parasites expressing PHIST protein tagged with GFP A recent paper by Associate Professor John Vakonakis provides insight into the damaging changes to red blood cells that are characteristic of malarial infection. Published: 22 July 2014
Glycolipid modeling wins student inaugural prize
Image showing the bilayer of the red blood cell membrane from the side, with the lipid GM3 in pink (from Heidi Koldsoe) DPhil student David Shorthouse has won the SCI Young Lipid Scientist Award for his work on glycolipids. Published: 9 July 2014
Faulty endoplasmic reticulum structure underlies human neurological disorder
Fibroblasts fixed and stained with DAPI (DNA) and with antibodies to markers for the ER A detailed scrutinisation of a neurodevelopmental disorder by researchers in the Department has revealed how the genetic defects interfere with a fundamental cell biological process Published: 7 July 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

New method allows researchers to explore how fibrillin is assembled

Researchers in the department have shed light on the early stages of assembly of fibrillin into microfibrils, a major component of the elastic tissue of animals. 

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Fibrillin microfibrils form beaded filament structures (blue) in the extracellular matrix of tissues such as in the elastic laminae of the aorta. Click photo to enlarge.

The research from Professor Penny Handford's lab, with lead author Dr Sacha Jensen, is published in PNAS (1).

The work provides an important step in understanding how the extracellular matrix assemblies of microfibrils are constructed and how mutant fibrillin associated with human disorders behaves.

Fibrillins are a group of large, disulphide-rich molecules dominated by calcium-binding EGF-like (cbEGF) domains. Fibrillin monomers are assembled into microfibrils at the cell surface and are quickly cross-linked into the extracellular matrix. Here they contribute to the elastic properties of tissues such as blood vessels.

Unlike collagen, the other major connective tissue protein, fibrillin cannot be assembled in vitro. This has hampered studies of microfibril assembly and its regulation, which would be valuable in understanding how mutations in the fibrillin gene cause a number of human disorders such as Marfan Syndrome (MFS).

Dr Jensen and colleagues wanted to develop a cellular system that would allow them to investigate microfibril assembly. Using information from previous structural studies of the N-terminal domains of fibrillin-1 (2), they engineered a GFP-tagged version of the protein, inserting GFP into a flexible, glycine-rich region where it would not affect the behaviour of the protein.

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Seminars

SBCB Seminar Series Matteo Aldeghi, 'Absolute free energy calculations and drug design' Thursday 24th Jul, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Dr. Tim Carpenter, 'The electrostatic pathway involved in GABA binding' Thursday 31st Jul, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Vishal Maingi, 'DNA origami nanotubes: Insights through molecular dynamics simulations' Thursday 7th Aug, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Laura Domicevica, 'P-glycoprotein and the path towards the binding site' Thursday 14th Aug, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building


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