Home Latest News Membrane Protein Laboratory Group secures further funding

The Franklin’s Protein Production UK team, led by Professor Ray Owens, are collaborators in a successful grant bid which has secured £1.5M of Wellcome funding for the Membrane Protein Laboratory for the next five years.

The Membrane Protein Laboratory (MPL), led by Dr Andrew Quigley at Diamond Light Source and located at the Research Complex at Harwell, is a user facility. Its focus has been on understanding the structure of membrane proteins through delivering high quality samples to Diamonds beamlines and microscopes. New funding will enable wider sample support to other Diamond beamlines and microscopes and form a foundation for integrative membrane protein structural biology.

Scientists working in lab at Research Complex at Harwell

Research Complex at Harwell. Photo credit: David Fisher

Membrane protein structures are of crucial importance for medicine. Structural data can inform design, optimisation and engineering of selectivity in order to improve the overall efficiency of drug discovery. Many major questions remain unresolved; these include the signal transduction mechanism of receptors, the gating mechanisms of ion channels and the molecular transport mechanism of transporters.

The MPL is now a well-established cutting edge biomedical resource centre providing support to an already significant, and still growing, number of users from UK and overseas and is part of the Research Complex’s unique facilities on the world stage that adds significant value to the UK and the international scientific communities that are studying membrane proteins. Since inception, the MPL has supported well over 200 applications from all around the word to use its facilities and has contribution to over 40 atomic resolution structures of membrane proteins.

The close proximity between Research Complex at Harwell, the MPL and Diamond has resulted in excellent working relations and synergies. This has alleviated problems in crystal transport, sample optimisation for cryo electron microscopy and has facilitated a quick turnaround between design of an experiment and its execution.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute, also located at Harwell, will continue to support the MPL through its Protein Production UK (PPUK) project, which orginated at Research Complex. This includes access to the Franklin’s nanobody platform, providing nanobodies and protein tools for stabilizing membrane proteins.

Dr Quigley says, “The equipment and the bench space that we have here at Research Complex helps to ensure that we obtain the very best samples to use on beamlines and microscopes. The powerful collaborations we have with Diamond and the Franklin and the expertise on site will continue to drive integrative structural biology.”

All MPL equipment and methodologies are available to scientists at Research Complex, visitors and collaborators, and we have dedicated research scientists available to support all users of our facility. Applications through the MPL website – contact andrew.quigley@diamond.ac.uk

Rosalind Franklin Institute