Proteins are molecular machines that carry out many essential functions in life. Just like macroscopic machines, proteins are controlled by on/off switches, called posttranslational modifications. Dr Müller's research aims to understand how these molecular switches operate and how failures in switching behaviour leads to disease.
Dr Müller and his team are able to measure the properties of proteins in their on and off states by using chemistry to synthesise proteins with defined posttranslational modifications. At the same time, his team is developing new chemistries to find previously unknown types of switches.
Read winner biography
Dr Manuel Müller studied biochemistry at ETH Zürich. He stayed on to pursue a PhD in biological chemistry with Professor Don Hilvert. His work on model systems of primordial enzymes was supported by a fellowship from the Scholarship Fund of the Swiss Chemical Industry and awarded the ETH Medal. He then joined Professor Tom Muir’s lab at Rockefeller as a postdoctoral fellow (Swiss National Science Foundation) and moved with the lab to Princeton. There he developed and applied chemical biology tools to study chromatin-modifying enzymes and how these enzymes contribute to epigenetic phenomena and diseases. In 2016, he joined the recently re-established chemistry department at King’s College London as a Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow.
His interdisciplinary lab investigates the function of post-translational modifications (PTMs) and how these molecular on/off switches control cellular life and death decisions. His team is particularly interested in an unusual class of PTMs: those that occur on the polypeptide backbone. By using synthetic protein chemistry and developing bespoke (bio)chemical technologies to interrogate backbone PTMs, he aims to delineate the unique mechanisms that these modifications contribute to protein structure and function.