The NMR & Structure Analysis Unit is part of the Department of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry at the Faculty of Sciences at Ghent University. Professor José C. Martins has been head of the laboratory since 2002. One of the main research topics within the group is the use of liquid-state NMR spectroscopy to study the cyclic lipopeptides (CLiPs).
Within the research group, various protocols were developed to achieve optimal extraction and purification of CLiPs from their bacterial producers. For chemical characterization of CLiPs, a wide range of 1D and 2D NMR experiments are used to establish amino acid sequence (including macrocycle size and fatty acid length) and three-dimensional conformations. Moreover, elaborate NMR experiments are performed to study the self-assembling properties of CLiPs (PhD thesis of Davy Sinnaeve) and the link with the membrane interactions of these molecules (PhD thesis of Niels Geudens).
Currently, the lab is gaining expertise in the production of isotopically labelled CLiPs (both 13C and 15N). These allow to use well-established liquid-state NMR experiments, typically used for large proteins, to analyze CLiP-CLiP and CLiP-cell interactions.
In a long-standing collaboration with the Organic and Biomimetic Chemistry Research group, led by Prof. Annemieke Madder (UGent), the lab has developed an efficient and highly automated solid-phase peptide synthesis protocol for the production of synthetic analogues of CLiPs. These analogues are used to establish a detailed structure-activity relationship (PhD thesis of Matthias De Vleeschouwer).
The research group also has considerable expertise in in silico modelling and is expanding its knowledge in stereochemical elucidations.