by Stephen Byard—NMR DG Secretary
The School of Chemistry at Leeds University provided an ideal venue for the 2010 Royal Society of Chemistry NMR Discussion Group Postgraduate meeting. This one-day conference has now become an annual event, comprising talks and posters presented by early career researchers, giving them an opportunity to showcase their research in a friendly and informal atmosphere. On this occasion, overview presentations were also given by leading experts in their fields. Delegates included established scientists and group leaders from both academia and industry, providing a supportive and stimulating environment for all those presenting.
Paul Hodgkinson of Durham University opened the morning session with a tutorial lecture providing an overview of current solid-state NMR and applications. The fundamental differences between solution-state NMR and solid-state NMR were discussed, with illustrations of how information concerning structure and dynamics can be obtained from solid-state NMR. In particular, the role of computational chemistry to connect NMR data and structural information from diffraction based techniques was highlighted. Continuing the theme of solid-state NMR applications, Jonathan Bradley of Warwick University described how 1H double quantum build-up curves from double-quantum filtered correlation spectra could provide reliable determination of H—H distances. This was demonstrated for γ-indomethacin, where the spectra comprise many overlapping signals.
Jan Novak of Birmingham University provided an account of how magnetic resonance imaging could be used to study chemical waves under flow. In this case, the visualisation of chemical waves propagating through a series of Taylor vortices was demonstrated using NMR velocity and diffusion maps. This was voted the best oral presentation by a panel of judges from the NMR DG committee, and Jan was awarded prizes of £100, a bottle of champagne and an engraved Jeol medal, all provided by sponsors Jeol UK .
After an extended lunch and mixer session, with an opportunity to view a wide range of posters, Mike Williamson of Sheffield University opened the afternoon programme with the second overview lecture. Mike gave a retrospective account of his career in research, whilst sharing his thoughts about what he might have done differently “if he knew then what he knows now”. In summary, he emphasised the importance of luck and value of persistence with wide ranging interests. Theodoros Karamanos of Leeds University continued the session with a description of the structural determination of the dimeric apo-zitB cystoplasmic domain. Theodoros provided an account of how the use of residual dipolar couplings provided information about the symmetry axis between two monomers without use of nOe assignments. On this basis a preliminary structure was reported, having many common features with proteins belonging to the same family, to provide a route to efficiently calculating the full high-resolution structure. Judy Fonville of Imperial College then presented the novel use of full-resolution J-resolved projections in metabonomics and emphasised the use of peak alignment for good statistical correlations and multivariate models. Also, “binning” or grouping of spectral points for statistical analysis was discouraged, since limitations on information recovery are pronounced. The use of J-resolved projections for biomarker analysis was demonstrated, with increased peak dispersion and improved interpretation. However, quantification was not sufficient for use in regression spectroscopy. Ying Chow of Cambridge University described her work involving the use of NMR to study collagen matrix growth in cell cultures. The systems are extremely complex and initial studies showed that translational modification of proline was not always carried out. 15N labelled model collagen peptides have been synthesised and NMR work is being used to identify fingerprints of collagen structural motifs. Such information will enable characterisation of collagen matrix syntheses with greater precision.
A panel of judges from the NMR DG committee awarded a prize of £50.00 to Hannah Davies of Liverpool University for the best poster presentation. Hannah is using solid-state NMR to study the structure of ordered protein fibrils involved in amyloid diseases. Ultimately, studies of this nature may lead to pharmaceutical treatments to inhibit aggregation. Work is in progress to determine which residues are responsible for a transition between β-sheet arrangements in medin derived peptides and subsequently identify target sites for small molecules to inhibit aggregation.
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