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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A record-breaking beta barrel allows protein transport across the bacterial outer membrane
Type 9 protein translocon complex. The SprA protein is Rainbows coloured, partner proteins are grey. Specular density shows the position of the detergent micelle surrounding the translocon New research from the Berks (Biochemistry) and Lea (Pathology) groups reveals how proteins are transported across the outer membrane of bacteria responsible for severe dental disease (peridontitis) Published: 22nd November 2018
iGem Gold Medal Award
The Oxford iGEM team 2018 The 2018 Undergraduate Oxford iGEM team have just returned from Boston with a Gold medal and the award for Best Therapeutics Project along with three other award nominations. The iGEM competition gives interdisciplinary teams of students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology whilst tackling everyday issues facing the world Published: 7 November 2018
DNA repair pathway to come under further scrutiny with new funding
David Lopez Martinez Martin Cohn and his DPhil student David Lopez Martinez have secured funding to enable them to continue to explore how an important DNA damage pathway is regulated. The funding for a MRC transition fellowship will support David as he moves from DPhil to postdoc position Published: 18 October 2018
"The Bacterial World" at the Oxford Natural History Museum
Alt Text An exhibition "The Bacterial World" opens at the Oxford Natural History Museum this Friday and runs until May. It is curated by Judy Armitage with lots of input from Kevin Foster and lots of other bacteriologists around the University. Published: 16 October 2018

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Mark Sansom, Head of Department

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford is a centre for world class research and teaching of all aspects of Biochemistry by staff from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Our research addresses a wide range of questions relating to the fundamental basis of all cellular life from man to microbes. This work explains the structures and functions of proteins and nucleic acids, and in doing so addresses the mechanisms of many human diseases. Using this knowledge, other researchers aim to create new vaccines, antiviral and antibacterial therapies to protect and treat humans across the world.

You can read more about the details of our current work and other aspects of the department, including undergraduate teaching and public outreach activities, on these web pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

News Highlight

New paper shows how transcription terminates with the help of a phosphatase

New research from Lidia Vasilieva's lab sheds light on how transcription termination in eukaryotes is controlled.

Model proposed. Conserved PP1 orchestrates transition from elongation to termination by dephosphorylating Spt5 and CTD-Thr4P at the end of the transcription cycle

Model proposed. Conserved PP1 orchestrates transition from elongation to termination by dephosphorylating Spt5 and CTD-Thr4P at the end of the transcription cycle
(Click to Enlarge)

The findings, from Dr Vasilieva's group in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, are published in Cell Reports (1) and demonstrate that conserved mechanisms are used at different steps of transcription. The work will help to fill the gaps in our understanding of how RNA polymerase II is released at the end of transcription.

All three stages of the transcription cycle of mRNAs - initiation, elongation and termination - are tightly regulated. The multi-protein complex RNA polymerase II (Pol II) interacts with a different set of factors to regulate the transition between these stages. The factors modulate how Pol II behaves, changing its ability to interact with DNA, incorporate nucleotides or pause.

Pol II interacts with factors via its core and also via the C-terminal domain (CTD) of its largest subunit, which consists of heptad repeats in which a number of residues can be reversibly phosphorylated during the transcription cycle. At the initiation to elongation transition, initiation factors that are bound to the core are replaced by elongation factors, causing Pol II to pause. Termination is essential for 3' end formation of functional mRNA, mRNA release, and Pol II recycling, but the changes that take place as Pol II moves from elongation to termination are less well understood. In fission yeast, an organism that serves as a good model for more complex eukaryotes, a conserved termination factor called Seb1 is known to interact directly with the CTD and is essential for regulating 3' end processing and termination.

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Comp Chem Kitchen Cambridge Structural Database, 'CCK-14: Hackathon-2' Thursday 13th Dec, 10:00 Computer Suite in the basement, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Keith Cassidy, 'Adventures in the modelling of bacterial chemosensory arrays' Thursday 13th Dec, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series 'Determining the mechanism behind cholesterol-dependent GPCR signaling: Simulation and experiment' Wednesday 19th Dec, 15:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
Rodney Porter Memorial Lecture Professor Ian A. Wilson, D.Phil, D.Sc, FRS, FRSE, 'Title TBC' Tuesday 9th Apr, 16:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building

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Athena Swan Silver Award