• Exploring the Identities and Modifications of Proteins
    Pic Credit: Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery

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Exploring the Identities and Modifications of Proteins

Feb 26 2022

Researchers from the University of Oxford, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Proteome Research and the Wellcome Sanger Institute have been awarded £5.5 million by the BBSRC in support of a project analysing individual proteins to decipher the complexity of bacterial communication.

Over the next five years, the multi-disciplinary team aims to develop and apply a novel approach for identifying proteins and their common modifications, such as phosphorylation, which can drastically alter a protein’s function. These modifications are difficult to detect with existing technology meaning they remain largely hidden.

The project will leverage three technologies developed by members of the team; nanopore, electrometry and mass photometry, which are already used individually to extract information about biomolecules, including their mass and electric charge.

Studying the role of phosphorylation in individual bacteria will enable improved understanding of microbial life, helping to better combat infection and antimicrobial resistance.

Project lead Professor Justin Benesch, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Chemistry, said: “Proteins carry out the processes of life, yet harbour much complexity that current technologies cannot detect.  Our approach should reveal much of this and we really look forward to exploring what we will uncover.”

Professor Claire Eyers, Director of the Centre for Proteome Research, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity that will allow us to explore the multitude of differentially modified protein species that contribute to regulating functional responses, not only in pathogenic bacteria, but to all forms of life.”

The project was awarded a Strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grant by the BBSRC. The sLoLa programme is designed to support frontier research that will address significant fundamental bioscience questions and improve our understanding of the fundamental ‘rules of life’. This project was one of just four chosen for funding.

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