NNP’s users: Gaston Courtade, NTNU, Trondheim

Profile, research areas and collaborations

Gaston Courtade is a PhD candidate at the Department of Biotechnology at NTNU. The focus of his research within the Biopolymer NMR group, led by Prof. Finn L. Aachmann, is the study of a family of copper-dependent redox enzymes known as lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs). LPMOs have a significant role in the depolymerization of carbohydrates such as chitin and cellulose. A blog article at the NT-faculty at NTNU explains LPMOs into a bit more detail.

Since the start of his master’s project in 2013, he has used NMR to address different aspects of LPMOs, such as their three-dimensional structure, interaction with substrates, copper-binding effects, and electron transfer.

Research collaborations with focus on NMR have been an essential part of the project from the start. The Biopolymer NMR group has a long-standing cooperation with Prof. Reinhard Wimmer, head of the NMR lab at Aalborg University in Denmark, who was a valuable resource when the NMR lab at NTNU was undergoing upgrades. The LPMO project started with Prof. Vincent Eijsink and his Protein Engineering and Proteomics group as well as Prof. Morten Sørlie at NMBU. The most recent collaboration is with the group of Dr. Marylène Vandevenne at the University of Liège in Belgium.

How does NNP contribute to your research?

NNP, and particularly the Bruker Ascend 800 MHz instrument at NTNU, gives us unprecedented resolution and sensitivity, which are the cornerstone of successful protein NMR investigations. It greatly facilitates our study of structural and functional aspects of LPMOs with atomic resolution.

Gaston Courtade at the NMR lab (at the right side)

More information: 

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NNP’s users: Torgils Fossen, UiB

Profile, research areas and collaborations

Torgils Fossen is from Bergen and works as a Professor at the Department of Chemistry at UiB. He develops his research within the group of Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy.

He started using NMR in 1994 to confirm the structure of new natural products, such as anthocyanins and other flavonoids. He worked as a post-doc (2001-2002) at the NMR research group at GBF Braunschweig (currently the Helmholz Institutt für Infektionsforschung). His works focused on confirmation of HIV-1 and influenza virus proteins. His current focus is on new complex bioactive natural products. In particular, the structure and interactions of viral proteins (mainly HIV-1, pandemic influenza and cytomegalovirus) aiming to develop new antiviral therapy.

International collaboration is a key element in his research group. They collaborate among others with Professor Ulrich Schubert and his colleagues, Professor Manfred Marschall and Professor Thomas Stamminger at the Institutt für Klinische und Molekulare Virologie at Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Regarding complex bioactive natural products, his research collaborations are mainly based on Sweden and Madagascar. Most of the projects are international collaborations, but he is also active on his local collaborations at UiB. The last years were especially relevant, with fruitful collaborations with Professor Anni Vedeler (Department of Biomedice at UiB), Professor Bengt Erik Haug (group of Medicinal Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, and Center for Pharmaceuticals), and Professor Lars Herfindal (Department of Pharmacology, Center for Pharmaceuticals). They published in 2014 the first new marine natural products which structure has been confirmed at UiB.

How does NNP contribute to your research?

- NNP, and particularly 850 MHz NMR, gives us clearly improved possibilities to confirm structures and interactions of viral proteins at atomic resolutions. In addition, our work within characterization of complex bioactive natural products is getting enrich after performing studies with 850 MHz NMR, since this spectrometer gives us plenty of data with higher resolution and sensitivity than the other instruments available in Norway.

- Even though NNP was recently launched, the instrumentation is working stable and it is easily available for us. With no doubt, NNP will be important for our current and future research. Now we look forward to test the remote control features of the spectrometer in the near future.

More information: Bui et al.,J. Nat. Prod., 2014, 77 (6), pp 1287–1296

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Update from Oslo

The AVII 400 spectrometer is again running in ICONNMR automation mode after its quench and recharging and the AVIII HD400 instrument is on field today and will be shimmed and tested from Monday March 23. and will get its own BACS sample changer handed over from the DPX 300 instrument on Wednesday March 25th.

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About NNP

The NNP is a desentralized NMR center which provide state-of-the-art NMR services and related scientific support. Backbone of the center is two 800 MHz spectrometers located at UiO and NTNU, and a 600 MHz and 850 MHz spectrometer located at UiB.

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