Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre
Grants for 2011 worth over $2.2m | Stem cells for Kamala | Joint venture in glycoproteomics | Australian scientists discover first new chlorophyll in 60 years | Our team wins ARC Super Science grant | Students win bronze at MIT
Members of the Biomolecular Frontiers team have won grants to work on projects ranging from cancer research to protein discovery.
Congratulations to Nicki Packer, Ewa Goldys, Ian Paulsen, Mark Baker and Mark Molloy for winning competitive ARC Discovery and NHMRC grants.
The seven projects are:
- ARC-Discovery Project 2011: Paulsen. Lifestyle choices: genomic
analysis of niche adaptations in marine Synechococcus: $370,000
- ARC-Discovery Project 2011: Molloy, Packer. Sugars in the real world:
Are cultured cancer cells a good model system for studying protein
- ARC-Discovery Project 2011: Hassan, Paulsen. Commensal benefits:
genomic basis for suppressing plant pathogens with Pseudomonas
biocontrol species: $300,000
- ARC-Discovery Project 2011: Calander, Inglis, Goldys, Baker. High tech
quest for trace biomarkers in complex biological media through
innovative nanoscale science of fluids, molecules, particles and
- MHMRC Project Grant: Baker, M, Nice, E, Colorectal Cancer Membrane
Protein Interactomics (A Major Discriminator of Clinical Outcome): $621,732
- ARC LIEF Grant LE110100101: Haynes, Packer, Molloy, Nevalainen, Willows. Better, faster, cheaper: improving shotgun proteomics by using highspeed ion trap mass spectrometry: $160,000
- ARC LIEF Grant LE110100171: Matthews, Mabbutt, Brown, Paulsen, Stock, Sunde, Trewhella. Shared resource for
protein discovery: $200,000
A snow leopard has had stem-cell therapy for a degenerative condition of the knee joint.
The surgery uses techniques developed by Ben Herbert, of the Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre, and Graham Vesey, CEO of Regeneus Animal Health.
Listen to Ben Herbert: BBC Health Check 31/1/2011
Research valued at over $100,000 draws funding from Agilent Technologies Australia and Macquarie University.
The project will use LC/MS to generate MS/MS fragmentation data of N-linked and O-linked glycoprotein glycans. The data will be used to enhance the GlycoSuite database - a publicly accessible, curated repository of glycan structures.
APAF and Agilent both recognise the functional importance of the glycan structures attached to proteins. This collaboration will extend the knowledge base for probing the role of the glycome in areas such as infectious diseases, cancers and metabolic disorders.
'The project will further enhance APAF's capabilities to offer glycan analytical services to the biotech industry for the characterisation of recombinant glycoproteins,' said Associate Professor Mark Molloy, APAF Director.
'Glycan research is a key in expanding our understanding of a wide range of diseases. It is exciting to have established a collaboration with Macquarie University to work in this area of research,' said David Tunks, Life Science Business Manager, Agilent Technologies.
Found by accident in stromatolites from Western Australia's Shark Bay, the new pigment, named chlorophyll f, can use lower light energy than any other known chlorophyll.
The historic study, published online in the journal Science, challenges our understanding of the physical limits of photosynthesis. It reveals that small-scale molecular changes to the structure of chlorophyll allow photosynthetic organisms to survive in almost any environment on earth.
Lead author Dr Min Chen (University of Sydney) discovered the new chlorophyll deep within stromatolites - rock-like structures built by photosynthetic bacteria, called cyanobacteria. On the team of interdisciplinary scientists are Dr Martin Schliep and Dr Zhengli Cai (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Robert Willows (Macquarie University); Professor Brett Neilan (University of New South Wales) and Professor Hugo Scheer (University of Munich). They characterised the absorption properties and chemical structure of chlorophyll f, making it the fifth known type of chlorophyll molecule on earth.
Authors: Chen, Min, Schliep, Martin, Willows, Robert D, Cai, Zheng-Li, Neilan, Brett A, Scheer, Hugo (2010) A Red-Shifted Chlorophyll. Science 329 (5997) pp 1318-1319 (IF = 28.1) (A*).
Macquarie University biomolecular scientists have won two Australian Government ARC Super Science Fellowships.
The researchers will use the grant to train early-career postdoctoral scientists in the interlinked technologies related to genomics, proteomics and glycomics.
Their aim is to use Macquarie University's unique collective expertise in proteomics, glycomics and genomics to characterise and quantitate microbial communication and interaction networks.
The proposal was underpinned by the NCRIS-funded Australian Proteome Analysis Facility (APAF) at Macquarie, and complemented by the research strength in the MQ Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre.
The two Fellows will apply new technological developments in emerging areas of biomolecular sciences to a system-wide investigation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa interaction networks. The team will:
- integrate proteomic and transcriptomic analyses of P. aeruginosa grown in artificial lung sputum medium, to assess the impact of modulating its quorum sensing system
- undertake glycomic and proteomic analyses of cell surface glycoprotein host receptors and use functional genomics to identify the microbial binding proteins
- use functional genomics, proteogenomics and glycomics analyses to investigate the novel co-habitative lifestyle of bacterial-fungal cohabitation.
- Researchers will use new quantitative technology to study communication and interactions between microbial pathogens. This will lead to a greater insight into the importance of previously uncharacterised genes, proteins and glycans in human pathogenic microorganisms. The information will provide new leads for treatment of the diseases they cause.
In addition to the training of early-career researchers from multiple disciplines, the grant will enable the team to produce a detailed systems biology (genes, proteins, glycans) understanding of P. aeruginosa interactions with its environment.
A team sponsored by the Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre gained recognition at an international science competition in November.
Yagiz Alp Aksoy, Hilal Varinli, Sangeev Santhirasegaram, Joanna Hare, Olga Ibrahim and Katherine Mackenzie faced tough competition at Boston's MIT.
Known as International Genetically Engineered Machines (IGEM), the competition drew teams from about 130 of the world's premiere universities, including Cambridge in the UK and Berkeley and Harvard in the US. Other countries include India, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Korea, Sweden and China.
Macquarie's IGEM team consisted of six students and a postdoctoral instructor, Dr Karl Hassam.
They presented their research project, on photoreceptors, as a poster and an oral, and join in workshops and scientific activities. The poster won a bronze medal.
Team project: The bacterial chameleon
Photoreceptors are used by almost every organism to adapt to their ambient light environment. The aim is to engineer a reversible molecular 'light switch' within E. coli.
The team will introduce a photoreceptor from non-photosynthetic bacteria (D. radiodurans and A. tumafaciens). By cloning the bacteriophytochorome coupled with heme-oxygenase (an enzyme that produces biliverdin from heme), they will create colonies that can respond to red and far-red light environments.
This novel approach results in the E. coli 'switching' from blue to green. The E. coli chameleon will serve as a fundamental 'bio-brick' for future applications, by providing a simple and photo-reversible switch.