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Dr Chris Arthur

Biological Mass Spectrometry

Cells operate at three main levels. The genomic, in which information on how the cell functions is stored within its DNA. Proteomic, how is the genomic information is converted into proteins and enzymes that actually do the work of the cell? Metabolomic, what small molecules do the enzymes make? when? how much and why?

Mass spectrometry allows us to get a handle on the proteomic and metabolomic cell functions. This might include, identifying a protein of interest in a disease to quantifying how much of a particular hormone is in a sample at any one time.

Biosynthesis of polyketides and fatty acids

Natural products are compounds derived from plants, fungi or bacteria. They are an important source of medicines, for instance antibiotics or anticancer agents. One of the most important classes of natural products, to the pharmaceutical industry, are the polyketides. The polyketide family include the cholesterol lowering statins and the tetracycline antibiotics. Each year polyketide and polyketide derived compounds account for sales in the region of $20 billion.

Despite their structural differences polyketides are produced (biosynthesised) in a manner very similar to that of fatty acids. By studying the biosynthesis of both fats and polyketides we can gain important insights into the processes that generate these important molecules

We study the structure, function and mechanism of enzymes that help make fatty acids and polyketide natural products. We are particularly interested in how these enzymes interact with one another, with the hope that we can understand and manipulate the pathway.

Research keywords

  • product biosynthesis
  • enzymology
  • protein structure
  • antibiotics
  • proteomics
  • mass spectrometry