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The University of Southampton

Flesh-eating bacteria, spontaneous amide bond formation, and polymers to fish for cancer cells Seminar

16 October 2013
Building 27, Room 2001 (Lecture Room 1) Chemistry Highfield University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Seung Lee at .

Event details

Part of the MDT Seminar Series

Amide bond formation in water between an amine and a carboxylic acid is usually thermodynamically unfavourable. A special feature of the chemistry of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes enables efficient spontaneous amide bond formation within particular proteins. We have harnessed this chemistry to generate an irreversible peptide-protein interaction (SpyTag/SpyCatcher). This reaction is rapid, high-yielding, genetically encodable and specific on cells. Complementation of this split protein has been analyzed by NMR and crystallography and advanced by rational and library-based engineering. Applications of this protein padlock will be presented for resisting forces and for construction of protein tentacles, to enhance the capture of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from blood, one of the most promising ways to enhance early diagnosis of cancer.

If you would like to talk to Dr Howarth before or after the seminar, please email Dr Seung Lee at


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Speaker information

Dr. Mark Howarth, University of Oxford, Department of Biochemistry. Lecturer in Bionanotechnology, Biochemistry Department, Oxford University 2007-present Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Alice Ting, MIT Dept of Chemistry 2003-2007 Graduate work with Prof. Tim Elliott, Southampton University, Cancer Sciences 1999-2003 Honours degree in Biochemistry, Oxford University (MBiochem) 1995-1999

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