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Durham University

Research & business

Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


Bacterial Methylomes

8th October 2020, 13:00, Via Zoom, Dr Richard J. Roberts from NEB, USA

Host: Dr David Dryden

About the speaker: Rich has served as Consultant and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at New England Biolabs since 1974. He joined NEB as Chief Scientific Officer in 1992. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1993 for his contribution to the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing. Rich was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995 and knighted in the 2008 Birthday Honours. His current research interests focus on enzyme discovery using bioinformatics, combined with the experimental testing of function. He primarily investigates bacterial restriction enzymes and their associated DNA methyltransferases. He also runs the restriction enzyme database, is a strong advocate of open access publishing and an advisor to Ocean Genome Legacy (, a non-profit research facility and genome bank dedicated to exploring and preserving the threatened biological diversity of the sea.

"Bacterial Methylomes"

Bacterial DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are best known as orphan enzymes such as the Dam methylase of E. coli or as components of restriction-modification (RM) systems. Until recently, rigorously determining the specificity of MTases was a tedious process. When they are components of Type II restriction systems it has been assumed that the MTases would have the same specificity as the cognate restriction enzyme, but that seems not always to be the case. For Type I and Type III RM systems, specificity determination was rarely attempted. With the advent of SMRT sequencing from Pacific Biosciences this situation has changed dramatically. Now it has become very simple to determine MTase recognition sequences both for individual MTases cloned in plasmids and also for whole bacterial genomes. This offers new insights into the functioning of bacteria and has led to the discovery of many novel MTases with unexpected properties. A new door on bacterial life has been opened and raises many questions, among which one of the most tantalizing is whether bacteria are engaged in novel forms of epigenetic regulation.

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