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▶︎ CANCELED: Harden M. McConnell Lecture

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Noyes 153 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)
Mass spectrometry: From plasma proteins to mitochondrial membranes
Professor Dame Carol Robinson, Department of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Oxford,

Beginning with the preservation of the first soluble complexes from plasma, in the gas phase of a mass spectrometer, I will describe our early experiments that capitalize on the heterogeneity of subunit composition during assembly and exchange reactions. To assess the overall topology of these complexes we then adapted ion mobility and soft-landing methodologies to show how ring-shaped complexes could survive the phase transition. The next logical progression from soluble complexes was to membrane protein assemblies but this was not straightforward. We encountered many pitfalls along the way, largely due to the use of detergent micelles to protect and stabilize these complexes. Further obstacles presented when we attempted to distinguish lipids that co-purify from those that are important for function. Developing new experimental protocols, we have subsequently defined lipids that change protein conformation, mediate oligomeric states, and facilitate downstream coupling of G protein-coupled receptors. Very recently, using a new method—ejecting protein complexes directly from native membranes into mass spectrometers—we provided insights into associations within membranes and mitochondria. In my lecture, I will trace the history of these developments and look towards future innovations and discoveries.


Professor Dame Carol Robinson holds the Chair of Dr. Lee's Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. She is recognized for using mass spectrometry to further her research into the 3D structure of proteins and their complexes. Recent highlights from her work include the discovery that membrane protein complexes can be liberated from micelles in the gas phase while retaining their subunit interactions, lipid-binding properties, and overall topology. Her research has attracted international awards including the Royal Medal from the Royal Society, the Novozymes Prize 2019, the Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society and the Davy Medal and Rosalind Franklin Award from the Royal Society. Carol is President of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences USA. She holds nine honorary doctorates and received a DBE in 2013 for her contribution to science and industry.


Faculty Host: Prof. Tom Miller

Graduate Student Host: TBD

Event Coordinator: Elizabeth Garcia