MRC Biomedical NMR Centre

The MRC Biomedical NMR Centre is a multi-user facility for biomolecular liquid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) which was set up by the MRC in 1980 to provide advanced and well-supported facilities for use by scientists from NIMR and other academic research establishments. NMR studies of the type carried out at the Centre provide a wide range of information, ranging from the atomic-level (e.g. determining the pKa of individual histidine groups in proteins), through to full determination of the structure and dynamics of proteins in solution. An important area of application is the identification of interaction surfaces between the components of macromolecular complexes.

The Centre’s facilities consist of four spectrometers, including one operating at 800 MHz, a recently-funded 700 MHz instrument, and two 600 MHz instruments. Centre staff have a high level of expertise in designing, implementing, and analysing macromolecular NMR studies. The spectrometers are suitable for investigating a wide range of biological systems in solution. Three of the four are equipped with the latest cryogenically-cooled probes for enhanced sensitivity. The facilities are currently used by 19 research groups from 16 different universities and institutes from around the UK. Within NIMR our closest links are with Divisions within the Structural Biology research area.

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NMR study of the interaction between a signalling protein and a phosphopeptide. Left: Overlay plot of successive spectra obtained after stepwise additions of the peptide to the protein solution. The peaks that change position identify the residues involved in the binding interaction. Right: Mapping the affected residues onto the structure of the protein reveals the interaction surface.

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Magnet of the Centre’s 800 MHz spectrometer

Selected publications

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