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Nigel Robinson

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Nigel Robinson

Professor of Biology
Durham University

 Nigel Robinson

About a half of the reactions of life require metals and Nigel Robinson has contributed towards understanding how living cells help to direct these vital inorganic elements to the correct protein locations.  He has studied the cell biology of metals for more than three decades, mostly in microbes and plants, and co-established (with Dennis Winge, Utah) the Gordon Research Conference series on the Cell Biology of Metals. He directs the BBSRC Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) on “Metals in Biology: Elements of IBBE”. Robinson’s group cloned the ferric-chelate reductases needed for iron-uptake by plants (non-grass species) (Nature 1999 397: 694-697). Using bacterial models he found that two enzymes with similar metal-binding sites, similar cupin-folds and similar metal-affinities acquire different metals, copper and manganese, by folding in different cellular compartments (Nature 2008 455: 1138-1142). These observations demonstrate that metal availability at the site of protein folding dominates metal-protein speciation in vivo. His research group characterised multiple components of the cellular machinery that sustains these vital metal-availabilities including DNA-binding, metal-sensors (reviewed in Nature 2009 460: 823-830), metal storage-proteins (PNAS 2001 98: 9593-9598), and copper metallochaperones engaged in metal-delivery (PNAS 2012 109: 95-100; reviewed in Ann Rev Biochem 2010 79: 537-562). The group recently discovered that the set point of a metal sensor is tightly-tuned to, but does not govern, the buffered intracellular concentration of its cognate metal (Nature Chemical Biology 2017 13: 409-414), providing a “window” through which the free energies of metals can be viewed inside cells.

Learn more about Dr. Robinson  here.