Author Archive

Top 10 Reviewers for Molecular BioSystems

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme around Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Molecular BioSystems in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Name Institution
Dr Sandipan Chakraborty Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
Dr Hongtao Zhao Medivir AB
Dr Tong Wang Jinan University
Dr Sheng Wang Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago
Dr Peter Gannett Nova Southeastern University
Dr Wolfgang Fischer National Yang-Ming University
Dr Paola Roncada Istituto Sperimentale Italiano L. Spallanzani
Dr Jun Yin Georgia State University
Dr Jeronimo Lameira Universidade Federal do Pará
Dr Thomas Dandekar University of Würzburg

















We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Molecular BioSystems Editorial and Advisory Boards and all of the Chemical Biology, -omics and Systems Biology communities for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

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Unravelling a knotty problem: A simulation study of neurotoxic knotted proteins

Knotted proteins and their part in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and spinal muscular atrophy have been put under scrutiny in a new HOT article recently published in Molecular Biosystems.

Two example trajectories that lead to the translocation of knotted species (yellow). Left: translocation of 1J85 when pulled in the I-N protocol. Right: unfolding of a HTT60 knotted conformation (polyQ part = red).

It’s long been known that aggregations of certain proteins have a key role in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. However, exactly how these aggregations happen and how it causes disease is still a subject of intense study.

Marek Cieplak’s group at the Polish University of Sciences have used mathematical simulations to study this still-mysterious phenomenon. They looked at huntingtin, a protein involved in embryonic development. If this protein mutates, it can cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s by forming toxic oligomers and amyloid fibres. Recent evidence has suggested that monomer forms of the protein could also be neurotoxic – Cieplak’s group theorise that this is due to knots in the structure of the protein that prevent neurodegeneration by the proteasome.

The group used mathematical simulations to create theoretical models of the knotted protein and the proteasome, and investigated the effect that the former would have on the latter under different conditions of force. Their results point to the knots being responsible for the jamming of the proteasome’s degradation mechanism. Under certain conditions proteins would stay knotted instead of untying, hindering normal neurodegeneration and leading to neurotoxic build-up of proteins.

The results will help to provide greater understanding of the mechanisms behind genetic diseases such as Huntington’s, paving the way for future experimental studies and, hopefully one day, the development of new and effective treatments.


Read the full article here:

Unfolding knots by proteasome-like systems: simulations of the behaviour of folded and neurotoxic proteins
Michał Wojciechowski, Àngel Gómez-Sicilia, Mariano Carrión-Vázquez and Marek Cieplak
DOI: 10.1039/C6MB00214E




Susannah May is a guest web writer for the RSC Journal blogs. She currently works in the Publishing Department of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has a keen interest in biology and biomedicine, and the frontiers of their intersection with chemistry. She can be found on Twitter using @SusannahCIMay.

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‘Microbial protein targets: towards understanding and intervention’ meeting

Microbial protein targets: towards understanding and intervention

14–16 September 2016, Durham, UK

This symposium will bring together leading expertise in protein structure determination, biochemical characterization and chemical biology to explore the most recent advances in the understanding of protein function and inhibition in microbial pathogens – both bacteria and parasites.

An exciting line-up of speakers will present their recent work in the area. Some of the confirmed speakers are:

  • Chris Abell University of Cambridge, UK
  • Gerald Spaeth Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
  • Ed Tate Imperial College London, UK
  • Maria Marco-Martin GSK Tres Contos, Spain

Take advantage of this opportunity to showcase your work alongside leaders in the field and submit an abstract for an oral or poster presentation today. Through generous sponsorship from the RSC Chemical Biology Interface Division and the BSP there are bursaries available for early career researchers to support their participation at this meeting.

The oral abstract deadline has just been extended until 15 July 2016, and poster abstracts are welcome until 5 August 2016. For more information and to register please visit the conference webpage.

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Bacterial identification gets a culture shock

Scientists in the UK have developed a new tool to distinguish bacterial strains from each other. This speedy method could help to minimise drug resistance by accurately directing antibiotic treatment at an early stage.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major health concern and its risk is growing evermore due to a lack of both new drugs and rapid point-of-care diagnostic tools to ensure best use of the drugs in hand. ‘Innovative solutions to identifying pathogens can be found – which is really needed as antibiotic resistance spreads – if different fields work together,’ explains Matthew Gibson from the University of Warwick, whose group developed the new diagnostic tool.

Current point-of-care methods to identify bacteria require culturing bacteria to grow them to higher density – a very slow process. New sequencing technologies are faster, but still require hours and special equipment. Gibson’s method makes use of adhesion between bacteria and other cells. Many bacteria bind to cells through protein or carbohydrate structures exposed on the surface of the bacterium called adhesins. Each bacterial strain has a very specific pattern of adhesins and therefore binds with different strength to different sugar-bearing cell surfaces.


Read the full story in Chemistry World


Read the original journal article in Molecular BioSystems – it is open access.

Discrimination between bacterial species by ratiometric analysis of their carbohydrate binding profile
L. Otten, E. Fullam and M. I. Gibson, Mol. Biosyst., 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C5MB00720H, Communication

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2016 RSC Prizes and Awards in Organic Chemistry & Chemical Biology now open for nomination

The 2016 RSC Prizes and Awards are now open for nomination!

Nominations will close on 15 January 2016.


For more than 140 years, our Prizes and Awards programme has been acknowledging and celebrating exceptional talent in the chemical sciences, and with your support we are hoping that 2016 will even more successful!

Last year’s winners include Chemists such as Prof. Wilfred van der Donk (University of Illinois), Prof. Tim Donohoe (University of Oxford), Prof. Shuli You (Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry), Prof. Philip Gale (University of Southampton), Prof. Herman Overkleeft (Leiden University), Prof. Alison Ashcroft and Prof. Sheena Radford (University of Leeds).

This year we have 63 prizes and awards open for nominations of individuals, teams and organisations covering the breadth of the chemical sciences across academia, education and industry.

This year’s prizes in the field of Organic Chemistry & Chemical Biology include:

CBID (Chemistry Biology Interface Division) awards –

Organic Awards –

For 2016 our Longstaff Prize is also open – since 1881 we have awarded this prize once every three years to one of our members who has achieved the most to advance the science of chemistry.

Submit your suggestions now!

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Prostate cancer detection comes of phage

Researchers in the US have wrapped bacteriophage with the polymer PEG (polyethylene glycol) to make a structure that detects PSMA, a molecular flag for prostate cancer. Their system could save lives by spotting aggressive forms of the disease at an earlier stage.

 Engineering chemically modified viruses for prostate cancer cell recognitionBacteriophage are harmless to humans, and their surfaces can be easily modified to grab onto cancer biomarkers, which can be indirectly quantified by measuring the levels of enzymes attached to these biomarkers with an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). However, non-specific adhesion between cell surface receptors and phage can lead to a reduced signal-to-noise ratio and therefore make it difficult to distinguish cancer cells.

Greg Weiss and Kritika Mohan at the University of California have overcome this issue by wrapping PEG around the phage M13. This creates a hydration sphere around the phage and limits non-specific cell adhesion, allowing them to distinguish PSMA-positive from PSMA-negative cells.


Read the full story in Chemistry World»


Read the original journal article in Molecular BioSystems – it is free to access until 30 November 2015.

Engineering chemically modified viruses for prostate cancer cell recognition
K Mohan and G Weiss, Mol. Biosyst., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/
C5MB00511F, Paper

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