Key Research Interests

 

Located in the School of Chemistry at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, we use a diverse array of tools including molecular biology, synthetic biology, optical spectroscopies, electrochemistry, mass spectrometry and protein engineering for our research. Our focus is the interface of chemistry and biology as we study metalloproteins to resolve their structures and function and inspire the development of biohybrid materials for light-driven production of electricity and fuels.

Photochemistry: Light-Activated Molecular Wires and Solar Fuels. Many metalloproteins resemble molecular wires. Chains of redox active transition metal containing cofactors conduct electrons through poly-peptide matrices. Labeling such proteins with synthetic photosensitisers allows light-driven electron injection into the proteins. We are using this strategy to gain fundamental insight into electron transfer in multiheme cytochromes and to inspire approaches to solar fuel production. Collaborators: Steve Meech and Tom Clarke (UEA), Erwin Reisner (Cambridge), Lars Jeuken (Leeds), Jochen Blumberger (UCL).

Biochemistry Underpinning the Biogeochemical Cycling of Fe, S and N. Bacteria live in amazing and often apparently hostile environments. This is possible because they gain energy from redox transformations of inorganic forms of nitrogen, sulfur and iron that are present in those environments. We purify the proteins that catalyse these reactions. We define their structures and electron transfer properties to better understand how these proteins contribute to bacterial metabolism related to health and infection, electricity production by microbial fuel cells and mineral/nutrient cycling in anoxic sediments. Collaborators: Tom Clarke, David Richardson and Myles Cheesman (UEA), Lars Jeuken (University of Leeds), Erwin Reisner (Cambridge), Christiane Dahl (University of Bonn).

Protein Film Electrochemistry and Spectroscopy. Exquisite insights into electron transfer properties of purified metalloproteins are available when they are adsorbed as electro-active films on electrode materials. A defined voltage is applied to the electrode and the resulting flow of current quantified that electron transfer providing unique insight into redox catalysis, inhibition, activation and reduction potentials. Simultaneous spectroscopy of the adsorbed protein provides direct insight into the identity of the redox active cofactors.

 

Further details can be found here.

 

Research Group

Post-Doctoral Research Associate: Jessica van Wonderen

Research Technician: Simone Payne

PhD Student: Sam Piper

Project Students: Laura Alfs, Holly Anderson, Joshua Burton

Enquiries from potential postgraduate and post-doctoral scientists interested in our lab are always welcome (j.butt@uea.ac.uk). Studentship and employment opportunities will be advertised via the usual channels and UEA website. Click here for current PhD opportunities in the School of Chemistry and Biology.

 

 

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