Dr Paul Curnow

B.Sc.(Lond.), Ph.D.(Bristol)

  • BS8 1TD


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

We are interested in both fundamental studies of membrane proteins and in how this particular class of proteins might be used in synthetic biology. Current projects are:

Biomineralization. Inorganic minerals are widespread and diverse in nature, being important constituents of structures including bone, tooth and shell. However, the underlying biological mechanisms behind biomineral synthesis remain only partly understood. We are interested in the roles played by membrane transport proteins in biomineralization. Our initial target is a unique family of membrane proteins found in the diatoms, unicellular algae that sheath themselves in an intricate outer cell wall made of silica. To build this ‘glass house’, diatoms have evolved a novel family of integral membrane proteins that can transport a silica precursor across the cell membrane envelope. We are conducting the first biochemical and biophysical studies of these silicon transporters to try and understand their structure and function at the molecular level. By reconstituting these transporters into synthetic lipid vesicles, we aim to construct a simple model of a diatom cell. We intend to extend this approach in order to better understand the synthesis of other important biominerals such as calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and iron oxide.

Aromatic acid transport. Aromatic acids are transported into certain bacterial cells via a dedicated family of membrane transport proteins. We have recently begun to study the structure and function of these proteins to understand how members of this family recognize and transport aromatic acids. We are also currently exploring whether we can apply these proteins as components of cellular computers, by using them to form biochemical logic gates.

Yeast acyltransferases. Brewer’s yeast contains a number of membrane-associated enzymes (acyltransferases) that make biochemicals which control the flavour of fermented beverages such as wine and beer. We have developed novel methods to understand the structure and function of these enzymes and are now curious as to whether they could be used as environmentally-friendly ‘cell factories’ for the production of fragrances and fine chemicals.


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Research Output

  • 22 Article (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Conference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)
  • 1 Book/Film/Article review (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Web publication/site

Small-residue packing motifs modulate the structure and function of a minimal de novo membrane protein

Curnow, P., Hardy, B. J., Dufour, V., Arthur, C. J., Stenner, R., Hodgson, L. R., Verkade, P., Williams, C., Shoemark, D. K., Sessions, R. B., Crump, M. P., Jones, M. R. & Ross Anderson, J. L., 26 Jun 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Scientific Reports.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

  • The Bristol Sponge Microbiome Collection: A unique repository of deep-sea microorganisms and associated natural products

    Williams, S., Stennett, H. L., Back, C., Tiwari, K., Ojeda Gomez, J., Challand, M. R., Hendry, K., Spencer, J., Essex-Lopresti, A., Willis, C. L., Curnow, P. & Race, P. R., 13 Aug 2020, In : Antibiotics. 9, 8, 189 p., 509.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 32 Downloads (Pure)

    A Natural Diels-Alder Biocatalyst Enables Efficient [4 + 2] Cycloaddition Under Harsh Reaction Conditions

    Marsh, C. O., Lees, N. R., Han, L-C., Byrne, M. J., Mbatha, S. Z., Maschio, L., Pagden-Ratcliffe, S., Duke, P., Stach, J. E. M., Curnow, P., Willis, C. L. & Race, P. R., 25 Aug 2019, In : ChemCatChem. 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    36 Downloads (Pure)


    • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course
    • 1 Fellowship awarded competitively

    International Genetically Engineered Microorganism (iGEM) Jamboree 2017

    Kathleen R Sedgley (Participant), Paul Curnow (Organiser), Fabio Parmeggiani (Organiser) & Andy Boyce (Organiser)

    1 Jun 201730 Nov 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    ERC Starting Grant - Silicon transport proteins in biological nanoscience and synthetic biology.

    Paul Curnow (Recipient)

    1 Nov 20111 Nov 2016

    Activity: Other activity typesFellowship awarded competitively