I am an enzymologist and biophysist, exploring how nature’s nanomachines drive the chemical reactions that sustain life. I’ve used these skills to understand how plants turn green, how to stabalize artifical proteins and how marine organisms harvest scarce elements in the ocean.

Chlorophyll Biosynthesis


I spent 12 years studying the enzymes that construct arguably the most important molecule on Earth, chlorophyll. Billions of tonnes of this molecule are produced annually, but only until recently did we uncover every single step in the process. I discovered key mechanistic insights into how the enzymes perform their transformations, combining biophysics, enzymology and structural biology to understand the chlorophyll metabolon.

Phosphorus uptake in bacteria


Phosphorus is a vital element for all life, it makes up the back bone to DNA, life uses the bond between oxygen and phosphorus to power many chemical reactions, and it provides the buffering environment in our cells – but it can be difficult to find in the ocean. Marine bacteria have developed specialised machinery to scavage as much phosphorus as possible – and I’ve been exploring how this works.

Publication list

Probing the quality control mechanism of the Escherichia coli twin-arginine translocase with folding variants of a de novo -designed heme protein

Published in Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018

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Recommended citation: George Sutherland, Katie Grayson, Nathan Adams, Daphne Mermans, Alexander Jones, Angus Robertson, Dirk Auman, Amanda Brindley, Fabio Sterpone, Pierre Tuffery, Philippe Derreumaux, P. Dutton, Colin Robinson, Andrew Hitchcock, C. Hunter, "Probing the quality control mechanism of the Escherichia coli twin-arginine translocase with folding variants of a de novo -designed heme protein." Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018. http://www.jbc.org/lookup/doi/10.1074/jbc.RA117.000880

Porphyrin Binding to Gun4 Protein, Facilitated by a Flexible Loop, Controls Metabolite Flow through the Chlorophyll Biosynthetic Pathway.

Published in Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2015

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Recommended citation: Nathan Adams, Kope\v{c}n{\'a} J, Cabeza Vaca, Adams NB, Davison PA, Brindley AA, Hunter CN, Guallar V, Sobotka R, "Porphyrin Binding to Gun4 Protein, Facilitated by a Flexible Loop, Controls Metabolite Flow through the Chlorophyll Biosynthetic Pathway.." Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2015. http://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M115.664987

Structural and functional consequences of removing the N-terminal domain from the magnesium chelatase ChlH subunit of Thermosynechococcus elongatus.

Published in Biochemical Journal, 2014

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Recommended citation: Nathan Adams, Adams NB, Marklew CJ, Qian P, Brindley AA, Davison PA, Bullough PA, Hunter CN, "Structural and functional consequences of removing the N-terminal domain from the magnesium chelatase ChlH subunit of Thermosynechococcus elongatus.." Biochemical Journal, 2014. http://doi.org/10.1042/BJ20140463