Prof. Martin Warren

Chief Scientific Officer and Group Leader

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Synthetic biology and biosynthetic pathways


I first joined the Quadram Institute in 2019 as a group leader in the Gut Microbes and Health programme before becoming lead for our Food Innovation in Health programme in 2020. In 2022 I was appointed Chief Scientific Officer for the Quadram Institute. I am originally from Northern Ireland and went to Southampton University where I read Biochemistry as an undergraduate (1981-1984). I stayed on in the Biochemistry Department to do a PhD with Professor Peter Shoolingin-Jordan, which initiated my interest in the genetics and biochemistry of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis.

After completing my PhD studies, I moved in 1989 to Texas A & M University, where I worked as a research associate with Professor Ian Scott FRS on vitamin B12 biosynthesis. In 1991 I took up a lecturing position in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London, where I stayed until 1995 when I moved to a Senior Lecturer position at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London. I was promoted to Reader of Biochemistry in 1998 but then moved back to the School of Biological Sciences at Queen Mary in 1999 to take up a Personal Chair. In 2005 I moved to the University of Kent, where I am Professor of Biochemistry. In 2007 I was awarded a BBSRC Professorial Fellowship to work on the bioengineering of complex metabolic pathways and in 2018 I was fortunate to gain a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship to work with Mologic on a rapid nutrient diagnostic assay system.

My current interests include understanding how cobalamin (vitamin B12) is made and distributed across the Kingdoms of Life. A key question my group is addressing is the role of cobalamin as a modulator of the GI microbiome and how/if this is related to B12 deficiency. Other works is aimed at understanding the form and function of metabolosomes, bacterial microcompartments, the proteinaceous organelles that assist in the breakdown of specific substrates. A key area of investigation is understanding the metabolic advantage provided by metabolosomes to specific bacteria and whether these are associated with health or disease.

Key Publications

Moore SJ., Sowa ST., Schuchardt C., Deery E., Lawrence AD., Ramos JV., Billig S., Birkemeyer C., Chivers PT., Howard MJ., Rigby SEJ., Layer G and Warren MJ (2017) Elucidation of the biosynthesis of the methane catalyst coenzyme F430. Nature 543(7643):78-82 DOI 10.1038/nature21427.

Lee MJ, Mantell J, Hodgson L, Alibhai D, Fletcher JM, Brown AI, Frank S, Xue W-F, Verkade P, Woolfson DN and Warren MJ (2018) Design and engineering of bacterial cytoscaffolds. Nat Chem Biol 14(2):142-147. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2535.

Lawrence AD, Nemoto-Smith E, Deery E, Baker JA, Schroeder S, Brown DG, Tullett JMA, Howard MJ, Brown IR, Smith AG, Boshoff HI, Barry CE, Warren MJ (2018) Construction of fluorescent analogues to follow the uptake and distribution of cobalamin (vitamin B12) in bacteria, worms and plants. Cell Chemical Biology 25, 1–11. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2018.04.012.

Lee MJ, Mantell J, Brown IR, Fletcher JM, Verkade P, Pickersgill RW, Woolfson DN, Frank S, Warren MJ (2018) De novo targeting to the cytoplasmic and luminal side of bacterial microcompartments. Nat Commun. 9(1):3413. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05922-x.

Kieninger C, Deery E, Lawrence A, Podewitz M, Wurst K, Nemoto-Smith E, Widner FJ, Baker JA, Jockusch S, Kreutz CR, Liedl KR, Gruber K, Warren MJ, Kräutler B (2019) The Hydrogenobyric Acid Structure Reveals the Corrin Ligand as an Entatic State Module Empowering B12-Cofactors for Catalysis. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 58(31):10756-10760. doi: 10.1002/anie.201904713.

Juodeikis R, Martins C, Saalbach G, Defernez M, Warren M, Carding S, Koev T, Baker . (2023)

Differential temporal release and lipoprotein loading in B. thetaiotaomicron bacterial extracellular vesicles

Journal of Extracellular Vesicles

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Hamchand R,Lafountain AM,Buchel R,Maas KR,Hird SM,Warren M,Frank HA,Bruckner C. (2021)

 Red Fluorescence of European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) Spines Results from Free-Base Porphyrins of Potential Microbial Origin.

J. Chem. Ecol.

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Young TR,Martini MA,Foster AW,Glasfeld A,Osman D,Morton RJ,Deery E,Warren MJ,Robinson NJ. (2021)

 Calculating metalation in cells reveals CobW acquires CoII for vitamin B12biosynthesis while related proteins prefer ZnII.

Nature Communications, 12, 1195

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Osman D,Cooke A,Young TR,Deery E,Robinson NJ,Warren MJ. (2021)

The requirement for cobalt in vitamin B12: A paradigm for protein metalation.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res.

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Related Case Studies

B12 is written on a small circular chalkboard and surrouned by different foods, including salmon, prawns, red meat, mushrooms, cheese, yoghurt and milk. there is also a bowl of white tablets

An environmentally friendly vitamin B12 production method that makes manufacture more affordable

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Applications Close: 07 June 2024

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