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Tharin obtained a BSc in Molecular Sciences and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of São Paulo (Brazil). Her interests in Structural Biology then took her to Canada, where she used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study protein structure and dynamics in the regulation of muscle contraction as a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Brian Sykes’s laboratory, in the University of Alberta, before moving to the UK to work with Prof. Steve Matthews at Imperial College London, where she studied proteins involved in cell invasion by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Research interests in the Blumenschein group involve using NMR spectroscopy to investigate structural and dynamic properties of proteins, and their role in protein interactions and function. Current projects include the study of potential antibiotic targets, Chlamydia effectors, plant pathogen effectors, muscle regulatory proteins, and cell signalling in cancer. The study of intrinsically disordered proteins by NMR spectroscopy is another area of interest.

Selected publications

L. S. Boutemy, S. R. King, J. Win, R. K. Hughes, T. A. Clarke, T. M. A. Blumenschein, S. Kamoun and M. J. Banfield.
Structures of Phytophthora RXLR effector proteins: a conserved but adaptable fold underpins functional diversity.
Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011, 286, 35834-35842.
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.262303

O. Julien, P. Mercier, C. N. Allen, O. Fisette, C. H. Ramos, P. Lagüe, T. M. A. Blumenschein and B. D. Sykes.
Is there nascent structure in the intrinsically disordered region of troponin I?
Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics, 2011, 79, 1240-1250.
DOI: 10.1002/prot.22959

J. F. de Oliveira, M. L. Sforça, T. M. A. Blumenschein, B. G. Guimarães, C. C. de Oliveira, N. I. T. Zanchin and A.-C. Zeri.
Structure, dynamics and RNA interaction analysis of the human SBDS protein
Journal of Molecular Biology, 2010, 396, 1053-1069.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.12.039

T. M. A. Blumenschein, N. Friedrich, R. A. Childs, S. Saouros, E. P. Carpenter, M. A. Campanero-Rhodes, P. Simpson, W. Chai, T. Koutroukides, M. J. Blackman, T. Feizi, D. Soldati-Favre and S. Matthews.
Atomic resolution insight into host cell recognition by Toxoplasma gondii.
EMBO Journal, 2007, 26, 2808-2820.
DOI: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601704

Career History

  • 1990-1994 – BSc in Molecular Sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • 1995-2000 – PhD in Biochemistry, Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo, Brazil 
  • 2000-2005 – Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Canada
  • 2005-2007 – Postdoctoral Research Associate, Division of Molecular Biosciences, Imperial College London
  • 2007-current – Lecturer in Biomolecular NMR, School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia

Key Research Interests

Research interests in the Blumenschein group revolve around understanding protein structures and dynamics, and their role in protein interactions and function. We perform protein expression and purification to obtain isotopically labelled samples for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy studies, complemented by other biophysical techniques as necessary.

Current research projects include the study of a peptide with antibiotic properties, pathogen effectors, cell signalling in cancer, and the regulation of muscle contraction. In collaboration with Prof Tony Maxwell, from the John Innes Centre, we are looking at a bacterial peptide that inhibits the activity of DNA gyrase by a mechanism different from current antibiotics. Given the urgent need to develop new antibiotics, we are hope that new understanding of how this inhibitor works will lead to new therapeutic agents.

Effectors are proteins produced by pathogens that contribute to the process of infection, both of animal and plant hosts. We are currently studying the structure and dynamics of Tarp, an effector from Chlamydia trachomatis involved in the cell invasion in human infection (in collaboration with Dr Ted Hackstadt, NIH, USA), and AVR3a11, an effector from the plant pathogen Phytophthora capsici which prevents the plant defence mechanisms from recognising the infection (in collaboration with Dr Mark Banfield, John Innes Centre).

Cell signalling is intrinsic to the process of cancer. The process of cell division and growth is usually tightly regulated in each cell, involving a number of proteins that interact with each other to maintain this balanced network of signals. We are looking at three different signalling processes that are involved in cancer: ADAM-15 interactions with different intracellular kinases, the E3 ligase WWP2 interactions with its targets, and the coiled-coil interactions between Fos and Jun proteins.

We are also looking at the interactions within the troponin complex, which is responsible for the regulation of muscle contraction.

Research Group Membership

Photo of the group enjoying a meal out

The group at the CCPN meeting, summer 2012. From the left: James Tolchard, Vicki Chambers, Krissy Kay, Liz Shedden and Tharin Blumenschein.

PhD Students
Danielle de Bourcier
Liz Shedden

Undergraduate project Students
Sam Walpole
Jessica Spencer

Former group members
James Tolchard (PhD student 2009-2014)
Alex Smith (undergraduate summer student 2014)
Monica Sharman (undergraduate project student 2013/14)
Priscilla Sieira Chaves (undergraduate summer student 2012)
Michael Wood (undergraduate summer student 2012)
Krissy Kay (visiting researcher 2010/11 and MSc project student 2011/12)
Vicki Chambers (undergraduate project student 2011/12)
Alex Carey-Hulyer (undergraduate summer student 2010 and project student 2011/12)
Rachael Gathercole (undergraduate summer student 2011)
Francesca Kinsey (undergraduate summer student 2011)
Claire Allen (undergraduate summer student 2009 and project student 2010/11)
Aaron Eveleigh (undergraduate project student 2009/10)
Lawrence Eaglen (undergraduate project student 2008/09)
Leah Morris (undergraduate summer student 2008)

External Activities and Indicators of Esteem

  • Secretary of the British Biophysical Society Committee since 2013
  • Member of CPOW in the Biophysical Society (USA) since 2011
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry East Anglia Section Committee since 2007
  • Member of the Biochemical Society since 2005
  • Member of the Biophysical Society since 1998

Key Responsibilities

  • Senior Adviser for Natural Sciences 
  • Employability Director in the School of Chemistry
  • Science without Borders Coordinator for Chemistry
  • Member of the Natural Sciences Teaching & Admissions Executive Team
  • Member of the School of Chemistry Web Committee

Administrative Posts

  • Senior Adviser for Natural Sciences
  • Director of Employability in the School of Chemistry
  • Science without Borders Coordinator for Chemistry
  • Member of the Natural Sciences Teaching & Admissions Executive Team
  • Member of the School of Chemistry Web Committee