Category Archives: Open Science

Structure and Biochemistry of a bacterial microcompartment enzyme

Looking at enzyme encapsulation and why it matters in bacteria

Bacterial microcompartments are small protein structures that encapsulate various enzymes and substrates. This blog will look at our lab’s recent paper on an enzyme from a bacterial microcompartment, what we learned from it and where to take this research next.

Before discussing why bacterial cells need microcompartments, or even what they are, let’s look at why cells would need to compartmentalise themselves at all. All cell types across all kingdoms of life have some internal structure and capacity for sorting their contents. Cells package their DNA, enzymes for metabolism and chemicals into discreet compartments, with the purpose of making the cell more efficient and protecting it from toxic chemicals produced by the reactions happening inside. Bacterial cells do this via bacterial microcompartments (BMCs), which are protein shells that self-assemble and compartmentalise enzymes and their substrates in a wide range of different bacteria, from gut microbes to bacteria found in the soil and sea. Continue reading

Open for Science

Now that the Marles-Wright Laboratory is no longer a ‘virtual’ lab, in the sense that it isn’t just me and a laptop anymore, now seems like a good time to put out a little introduction and set out the scientific culture I’d like to foster as an independent researcher and lab head.

Since starting my Chancellor’s Fellowship in Edinburgh, I’m lucky to have found and employed a really promising RA and managed to secure funding for an EASTBio PhD student for the Autumn term. I have projects, networks and staff, now we just need start doing some serious science and start thinking about output and grant income. The culture of a lab is an important factor in determining success in these terms, as well as influencing the opportunities for training and professional development of staff and students, visibility, and atmosphere of working in a lab. Continue reading