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
Collage of Drosophila third instar larva optic lobe
Lu Yang, Davis lab
First year Biochemistry students at a practical class
Image showing the global movement of lipids in a model planar membrane
Matthieu Chavent, Sansom lab
Anaphase bridges in fission yeast cells
Whitby lab
Lactose permease represented using bending cylinders in Bendix software
Caroline Dahl, Sansom lab
Epithelial cells in C. elegans showing a seam cell that failed to undergo cytokinesis
Serena Ding, Woollard lab
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News

Matthieu Chavent receives PRACEdays16 Award
PRACEdays16 Dr. Matthieu Chavent recently received the PRACEdays16 Award for Best Scientific Presentation for his talk entitled "Membrane Protein Crowding: filling the gap between computations and experiments" Published: 19 May 2016
Visualising Targets for Novel Antibiotics
The Lipoprotein Pathway Researchers at Oxford, Trinity College Dublin, Diamond and the University of East Anglia have visualised, in high definition, proteins that are essential to bacterial survival, and are therefore potential targets for novel antibiotics Published: 31 March 2016
The secrets of fast neurotransmission in the brain
AMPA Receptor and auxiliary protein Recent work from departmental researchers in collaboration with groups at McGill University in Canada and the University of Liverpool has provided new insights into a crucial aspect of neuronal receptor behaviour Published: 25 February 2016

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Athena Swan Bronze Award

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Welcome

Mark Sansom, Head of Department

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

Cells show their individuality in a new study of DNA damage responses

A new paper from postdoctoral fellow Stephan Uphoff in the Biochemistry department has revealed that random variation in the DNA repair capacity of cells can lead to genetic variation.

E. coli cells treated with DNA methylation damage induce the adaptive response by activating Ada protein expression. The microscopy image shows fluorescently tagged Ada in yellow. Despite identical genetic makeup and treatment, a fraction of cells fails to induce the Ada response (in grey). Scale bar: 5 Ám.

E. coli cells treated with DNA methylation damage induce the adaptive response by activating Ada protein expression. The microscopy image shows fluorescently tagged Ada in yellow. Despite identical genetic makeup and treatment, a fraction of cells fails to induce the Ada response (in grey). Scale bar: 5 µm (Click to Enlarge)

The results are published in Science (1) and are the fruition of a collaborative project between Dr Uphoff in Professor David Sherratt's lab and the lab of Professor Johan Paulsson at Harvard Medical School. They provide insight into how phenotypic variation can lead to genetic variation - a new twist on studies exploring the impact of variability in gene expression between cells.

A physicist by training, Dr Uphoff has spent the last few years developing and applying live cell imaging techniques. Currently funded by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust and a Junior Research Fellowship at St John's College in Oxford, he has been using single-molecule imaging to study mechanisms of DNA repair in bacteria, in both the Sherratt and Paulsson labs.

The newly published study explores the consequences of heterogeneity in a bacterial DNA repair process. Whilst there has been lots of discussion about noise in gene expression giving rise to phenotypic heterogeneity in genetically identical cells, there have been few studies that go beyond transient variations in gene expression. In the case of DNA repair, however, any transient heterogeneity could persist over long timescales in the form of mutations.

In the bacterium Escherichia.coli, the adaptive response protects cells against the toxic and mutagenic effects of DNA methylation damage. This requires Ada protein, which as well as directly repairing methylated DNA, also activates ada gene expression. It does this via a positive feedback mechanism - ada expression is increased a thousand-fold by methylated Ada which acts as a transcriptional activator after transfer of a methyl group from damaged DNA onto the protein during the repair process.

Another feature of the DNA damage response is that Ada protein is present in low numbers in cells before DNA damage. 'We hypothesised that there should be substantial heterogeneity in the adaptive response between cells because positive feedback tends to amplify the noise that is inherent in low molecule numbers,' says Dr Uphoff.

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PhD Studentships

EPSRC 4 Year Industrial CASE Studentship EPSRC CASE Studentship DSTL-funded Studentship Oxford Graduate Scholarship in Computational Biophysics

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Seminars

SBCB Seminar Series Nicholas Michelarakis, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 2nd Jun, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Viwan Jarerattanachat, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 9th Jun, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBMB Seminar Series Jan Domanski, Juan Bada, 'SBMB Seminars' Friday 10th Jun, 11:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Tom Newport, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 16th Jun, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building


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