Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Andy Gill

Group Leader/Senior Research Fellow

Profile photo

Phone: +44 (0)131 651 9121

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Education / Academic qualification

Bachelor of Science, University of Warwick
Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Warwick
An investigation of the structure of ions in the gas phase
Bachelor of Science

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseProteomics, Protein misfolding

Biography

Dr Andrew Gill is a biochemist with over 20 years research experience in the field of proteomics and the determination of protein structure.

Following a degree and PhD in biological chemistry from the University of Warwick, Dr Gill joined the Institute for Animal Health, Compton as a post doctoral research scientist, before becoming a senior post-doc and then a group leader at the same institution. In 2007 Dr Gill transferred to The Roslin Insititute where he leads a team researching the expression, structure and function of proteins that are important for host-pathogen interactions. Dr Gill also oversees the proteomics and metabolomics facility, through which he research metabolomics methodologies and the role of  specific small molecules in biochemistry of animals and humans.

During his research career, Dr Gill has been involved in many studies of the structure and function of diverse proteins derived from pathogens including bacteria, viruses and parasites, as well as mammalian and avian host species. Dr Gill has published widely in the fields of prion diseases and mass spectrometry/proteomics, regularly reviews articles for journals in both fields and has been part of a recent DEFRA scientific review panel. Dr Gill is an Academic Editor for Plos One, an associate editor for Frontiers in Molecular Bioscience and has been part of the grant review systems for MRC, BBSRC, APRI and FWO (Flanders).

Research Interests

Dr Gill’s graduate training was in protein analysis by ion mobility mass spectrometry, thereby initiating a long standing interest in the application of mass spectrometric methods, including proteomic and metabolomic workflows, to the analysis of biological problems. Dr Gill’s core research has focused on defining how the structures and interactions of proteins contribute to the function, dysfunction, folding and misfolding of those proteins. A key feature of Dr Gill's research has been the application of diverse biochemical and biophysical assays, as well as multiple molecular dynamics simulations, to understand a variety of biologically important questions. For several years, Dr Gill’s main research area was neurodegenerative, protein misfolding diseases and Dr Gill has published a range of research articles pertaining to prion disease biology. However, Dr Gill has also worked on the structure and functions of proteins from viruses, bacteria, parasites and the mammalian and avian immune systems. Current research themes are focussed on:

 

1. The control of protein translation. Gene expression is regulated partly at the level of transcription, but there is substantial regulation at the level of translation. We are applying mass spectrometric methods to investigate how modifications to ribosomes regulate the expression of specific protein subsets, particularly under conditions of stress or disease or in different parts of the cell.

 

2. Bacterial cell envelope. The Tol-Pal system, a conserved network of seven co-transcribed proteins, contributes to the stability of the cell envelope that is fundamental to the homeostasis and integrity of Gram negative bacteria. We are investigating the role of key proteins in the orchestration of events leading to cell envelope, knowledge which will provide new concepts towards the design of antibiotics that would destabilize the cell envelope.

 

3. Metabolomics in health and disease. We have developed or are developing a variety of targeted assays for key metabolites, including monoamine neurotransmitters, steroids, members of the one carbon metabolism pathway, specific fatty acids and vitamin D metabolites. We are also developing non-targeted metabolomics workflows to understand the role of key small molecules in modulating or controlling a variety of normal or pathogenic biological processes.

 

4. Understanding protein structure and function. As a hub for protein chemistry at The Roslin Institute, we undertake a large amount of collaborative work to characterise proteins (and small molecule metabolites) derived from a variety of pathogens as well as the animal hosts that they attack. For example, we have recently investigated metabolic changes that are caused by knockout of the HPRT1 gene in rats, we have determined structural aspects of the recognition of Theileria-derived peptides by CD8 T-cells and have supported efforts to express and purify important immune-modulatory molecules from the eggs of transgenic hens.

In addition to leading his research team, Dr Gill heads the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility at the Roslin Institute.

Collaborative Activity

Forbes Howie, QMRI University of Edinburgh - Proteomics of the urine of pregnant giant pandas

Ross Fitzgerald / Mariya Goncheva, THe Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Bacterial proteins that alter the virulence of influenza

Helen Sang / David Hume, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Expression and purification of exogenous proteins expressed in chicken eggs

Tom Burdon / Simone Meddle, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Quantitation of neurochemicals in rat brain

Ian Dunn / Mark Stevens, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Optimising ovodefensins

Fiona Houston, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Determining why makes prion-infected blood  can transmit disease

Cheryl Ashworth, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Proteomics of porcine ovarian follicular fluid

Rona Barron, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Defining prion protein misfolding pathways

Wilfred Goldmann, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - The role of amino acid changes in prion protein structure, function and misfolding

Pedro Piccardo, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh - Understanding the molecular causes and consequences of idiopathic brain stem chromatolysis in cattle

Alison Green, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh - Optimising a prion diagnostic assay

Giles Hardingham, Institute for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh - Mechanisms of cell death in prion diseases

 

Research students

As Primary Supervisor

Miss Christiana Kontaxi - post translational modifications of microtubule-associated protein tau

 

As Secondary or Co-Supervisor

Miss Ciara Farren - Investigating molecular signatures of prion infection in blood

Miss Selene Jarrett - Proteomics of porcine ovarian follicular fluid

Miss Sze Ying - A role for neurosteroids in mediating the influence of prenatal stress on mood disorders in later life

Miss Imogen Johnston-Menzies - proteomics of proteins secreted from different Salmonella serovars

Teaching

Dr Gill lectures on prions and prion-like diseases as part of the final year elective course "Neurodegeneration, obesity and cancer" as well as covering similar ground with Neuroscience MSc students

My research in a nutshell

Within every living organism the genome codes for expression of the molecules that do the majority of the work - the proteins. A single gene can encode a variety of forms of a single protein, depending on how that protein is produced and modified, and so the protein complement of an individual can be much more complex than is defined in a genome. Proteins are large molecules, but living organisms also contain smaller molecules - amino acids, vitamins, steroids, fatty acids etc - that also have important roles. Our research focuses on explaining how and when proteins are made, how they are modified and how they carry out their roles. Although our work is aimed at explaining generically how these processes take place, we also focus on specific, important proteins, such as those responsible for maintaining the envelopes of pathogenic bacteria and which can be targetted by novel antibiotics. Finally, we use technology to profile small molecules - metabolites - in tissues and body fluids to investigate how their profiles change during health and disease.
 

Current Research Interests

Investigating the regulation of protein translation and post-translational modification, the role of key proteins in the stability of the cell envelope of gram negative bacteria and the role of small molecules biochemistry in health and disease.

Highlighted research outputs

  1. The crystal structure of the globular domain of sheep prion protein

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (121) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Archives of Virology

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsPublication peer-review

  2. Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsPublication peer-review

  3. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsEditorial activity

View all (13) »

Research projects

  1. Optimal Ovodefensins

    Project: Funded ProjectResearch

  2. ISP 2017/22-Gill Andy

    Project: Funded ProjectResearch

  3. Optimal Ovodefinisins

    Project: Funded ProjectResearch

View all (18) »

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