Physics-Biology interface seminar: Jennifer McManus


11:00 - 12:00

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Understanding protein phase transitions for globular, membrane and de novo proteins

Jennifer McManus (University of Bristol)

Protein phase transitions in biology are associated with disease pathogenesis, for example in cataract disease or sickle cell anaemia, but they also occur as part of normal biological processes, such as liquid-liquid phase separation in cells. While protein phase behaviour has been understood from a physics perspective for globular proteins for some time, how we can apply what we already know to biomolecular condensation, or the phase transitions of other protein types is less clear. In my talk, I’ll briefly review what we understand about the phase transitions of globular proteins and then present recent results on the phase behaviour of membrane proteins and the rational design of de novo proteins to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in cells. I’ll highlight what common features exist between these different protein types and how this might be important for biomolecular condensation in cells.


Jennifer McManus completed her BSc and PhD degrees in Chemistry at University College Dublin. Following postdoctoral appointments at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she established the Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry research group at Maynooth University in Ireland as a Science Foundation Ireland Stokes Lecturer. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016 and served as Head of Department between 2017 and 2020. She moved to the School of Physics at the University of Bristol in February 2020.

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