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
Biochemistry Department at 'IF', the 2018 Oxford Science Festival, 12-14th October 2018
Alt Text For the first time this year the annual Oxford Science Festival was held in October rather than June, and the Biochemistry Department fronted two stalls in the Town Hall on the weekend 13th and 14thOctober and one in the Weston Library on the afternoon of Friday 12th October Published: 1 November 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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Francis Barr announced as our new
Head of Department

Francis Barr, Head of Department

Francis Barr has been announced as the new Head of the Biochemistry Department with effect from 1st January 2019. He will take over from Professor Mark Sansom after just under 8 highly successful years in charge.

Francis joined the Biochemistry Department in 2011 as the EP Abraham Professor of Mechanistic Cell Biology. His research addresses the mechanism by which human cells regulate cell division and membrane traffic and how dysregulation of these pathways can lead to cancer and other human diseases.

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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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Keep in touch with the Department


Departmental Seminar Dr Anne Jannsen, 'Chemically-Induced Protein Aggregates to Study Protein Quality Control' Friday 18th Jan, 11:30 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Sophie Williams, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 24th Jan, 14:00 Main seminar room, New Biochemistry Building
Seminar Professor Dr. Ernst Bamberg, 'Rhodopsin based Optogenetics: Basics,Applications, Chances' Friday 25th Jan, 11:15 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Owen Vickery, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 31st Jan, 14:00 Main seminar room, New Biochemistry Building

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Athena Swan Silver Award