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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Understanding cerebral malaria: novel molecular insights into a sticky problem
The structure of a complex between a PfEMP1 domain (green) and the human receptor ICAM-1 (blue) Why do the most debilitating cases of malaria affect the brain, leading to cerebral disease? This important question has been addressed in a recent paper from Frank Lennartz and Matt Higgins, working with colleagues at the University of Copenhagen Published: 23 March 2017
Norman Heatley Award for Mark Howarth
Professor Mark Howarth Professor Mark Howarth has been awarded the Norman Heatley Award 2017 from the Royal Society of Chemistry. This Award was established to recognise and promote the importance of inter- and multi-disciplinary research between chemistry and the life sciences Published: 23 May 2017
Family Fun Day at the Royal Institution
At the Royal Institution in London on Saturday 13th May Professor Elspeth Garman, assisted by Dr Helena Taberman and Diane Barret gave 3 demonstration lectures at their 'Family Fun Day' designed for under 11 year olds Published: 17 May 2017
Tony Watts and Peter Judge at the Emirates Foundation
Tony and Peter in Dubai Tony Watts and Peter Judge have just returned from 3 days at the Emirates Foundation "Think Science Fair" in Dubai, the first time Oxford University has been to the Gulf States on any admissions or public engagement of science exercise in recent times Published: 16 May 2017

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Welcome

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

How a group of conserved proteins orchestrate transcription termination in eukaryotes

Figure 1. Homologous CID-containing proteins from budding yeast (S.cerevisiae) and fission yeast (S.pombe) with the conserved regions CID and RRM shown

Figure 1. Homologous CID-containing proteins from budding yeast (S.cerevisiae) and fission yeast (S.pombe) with the conserved regions CID and RRM shown (Click to Enlarge)

A paper published in Nature Communications by Lidia Vasilieva's group in collaboration with researchers at the Division of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford (STRUBI) and the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, sheds light on how a group of conserved proteins orchestrate transcription termination in eukaryotes (1).

Unexpectedly, their study also reveals that fission yeast, and possibly other eukaryotes, use a different mechanism from the model eukaryote budding yeast to regulate non-coding transcripts.

Figure 2. The structure of the Seb1 RNA-binding region, solved by X-ray crystallography and to 1.0 resolution. The canonical RRM domain is shown in blue and the second domain in green

All steps of transcription - initiation, elongation and termination - are tightly controlled. In eukaryotes, this control is directly coupled to RNA polymerase II (Pol II), a multi-protein complex whose largest subunit has a long C-terminal domain (CTD) with multiple repeats that are conserved across organisms. Many of the residues in the repeat can be reversibly phosphorylated and this is known to regulate key events during the transcription cycle. A conserved group of proteins required for transcription regulation are the CTD readers.

These bind to phosphorylated residues on the CTD, in some cases via a conserved CTD-interacting domain (CID), but it is not fully understood how they mediate CTD function is regulating transcription.

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Seminars

SBCB Seminar Series Jodie Ford, 'Protein engineering of SAS-6: from spirals to cartwheels' Thursday 1st Jun, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
Microbiology and Systems Biology (MSB) seminars, Department of Biochemistry Stuart Ferguson, Onno Akkermans, 'MSB Seminar Series' Monday 5th Jun, 11:00 Main Seminar room, New Biochemistry Building
OUBS Prof Elspeth Garman, 'Title TBC' Monday 5th Jun, 13:00 Main seminar room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Sarah-Beth Amos, 'SBCB Seminar' Thursday 8th Jun, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building


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