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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Water-bridging as an essential component for initiating protein folding
Showing the water bridge in KGPGK A recent publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society from research performed in the McLain Group from DPhil student Nicola Steinke, has focused on investigating the roles that both water and the primary amino acid sequence have in initiating -turn formation in solution Published: 1 June 2018
Prof Judith Armitage elected next President of The Microbiology Society
Prof Judith Armitage Professor Judith Armitage has been elected the next President of The Microbiology Society. She will take up the 3 year office in January 2019. Published: 16 July 2018
Don't sweat it: Scientists identify key step in production of BO
Associate Professor Simon Newstead Researchers have unravelled a key part of the molecular process by which armpit bacteria produce the most pungent component of the noxious smell we recognise as BO. The findings could result in more effective deodorants with targeted active ingredients, the researchers suggest Published: 5 July 2018
2018 Sosei Heptares Prize for Biophysics to be awarded to Prof Elspeth Garman
Professor Elspeth Garman The recipient of the 2018 Sosei Heptares Prize for Biophysics has been announced as Professor Elspeth Garman, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford. Published: 2 July 2018
Monitoring mutation dynamics in real-time
DNA mismatches are detected as fluorescent foci inside living E. coli cells growing inside microfluidic channels. Treatment of cells with DNA damage increases the frequency of DNA mismatches A new study by Stephan Uphoff published in the journal PNAS has utilised a method to monitor mutagenesis in real-time in individual cells. For the first time, the study has revealed real-time changes in mutation rates after exposure to DNA damage Published: 27 June 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

Mediating gene activation during development

The human body is an immensely complex biological machine composed of diverse cells, tissues, and organs. Remarkably, this diversity originates from one single cell, the fertilised egg. This contains all the information, encoded in our DNA as genes, necessary for the development of a fully functional organism. At the heart of forming this diverse complement of cell types is the ability to identify and use a subset of this information at the right time and place during development. When genes are not used in just the right way and at just the right time, normal development is perturbed leading to human disease. Therefore, a central question in human biology is to understand how the usage of genes is controlled in a timely and precise manner during development. This is a prerequisite for understanding how these processes go wrong in disease.

Figure 1. FBXL19 recruits Mediator to CpG islands of developmental genes, priming them for activation upon lineage commitment

Figure 1. FBXL19 recruits Mediator to CpG islands of developmental genes, priming them for activation upon lineage commitment
(Click to Enlarge)

The Klose lab focuses on this important question through understanding the detailed molecular processes that underpin accurate gene usage. In new work published in the journal eLIFE, the Klose lab have uncovered a previously unknown molecular mechanism that controls how certain genes are turned on as cells undergo specialisation, or lineage commitment, during development. In particular, the group discovered that a protein, called FBXL19, physically interacts with a large protein assembly called the Mediator complex. Mediator has been previously shown to play important roles in turning genes on during development, but how it selected the subset of genes that it activates has remained poorly defined.

Through studying the biochemistry of FBXL19 inside the cell, the Klose lab show that FBXL19 can recognize where genes are in the genome, by using a feature called a ZF-CXXC domain to identify DNA sequences called CpG islands. Therefore, FBXL19 effectively tells Mediator which genes it should prepare, or prime, for activation when the right developmental signals are present (Fig 1). The Klose lab discovered this through using stem cells isolated from mouse embryos and genetic engineering to disrupt FBXL19.

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SBCB Seminar Series Jodie Ford, 'Re-engineering SAS-6: from spirals to rings' Thursday 26th Jul, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Sophie Williams, 'SBCB seminar' Thursday 2nd Aug, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
Seminar Dr. Haruhiko Koseki, 'Title TBC' Friday 28th Sep, 13:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building

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