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The University of Southampton
MagRes@SotonResearch

Biological NMR

Biomolecular NMR spectroscopy is a highly versatile and powerful technique for the analysis of biological systems. It provides unique and valuable insights into the atomic structure and dynamics of biomolecules and their interactions. Furthermore NMR allows the analysis of biological pathways with applications to environmental sciences and medicine.

B2M protein structure

The complex molecular composition of biological systems and their finely tuned interactions are integral for their function. These heterogeneous systems contain both soluble biomolecules, such as those found in the cytoplasm and extracellular milieu and insoluble species such as integral membrane proteins and protein fibres. Accordingly, we employ a combination of both solution and solid-state NMR methodologies to probe the molecular structure, dynamics and interactions of constituent biomolecules and their modulation by complex environments.

Currently our research addresses a number of key biological questions including antigen processing and membrane transport, cellular signal transduction and membrane remodelling. Furthermore, the synergy that exists between solution and solid-state NMR is also providing us with a valuable opportunity to study the disease processes that lead to the formation of insoluble protein deposits such as those associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Disease.

The scope for NMR in the analysis of biological samples extends beyond the realms of the structural and dynamic characterisation of biomolecules. A number of our studies are now focussed on the analysis of biological samples to study metabolite levels and the  transport of these metabolites and other small molecules across the cell membrane. These studies are providing a wealth of information from understanding how corals respond to changes in climate to the development of novel chemistries to enhance the efficacy of new drugs.

Our efforts in this area are focused on:

 

  1. To understand how antigens are processed and presented to the immune systems, with implications for our understanding of cancer and autoimmune disease.
  2. The processes that lead to the aberrant folding of proteins that are associated with amyloid diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
  3. How integral membrane proteins interact with drugs, signalling molecules and lipids in the cell membrane to influence the activity of ion channels and receptors.
  4. The partitioning and transport of drugs and small molecules across cellular membranes.
  5. Membrane remodelling and its role in micro-vesicle formation and viral replication.
  6. The enzymatic processing of antigenic peptides
  7. The molecular response to heat adaptation in corals

You can read more about our research in the field of Structural Biology here.

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