Scientific highlights


Deuterated fibronectin and Neutron Reflectivity 
Extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as fibronectin (FN), laminin and collagen can be used to create biomimetic surfaces for cell adhesion and tissue engineering. By immobilising biocompatible ECM proteins on a biomaterial surface the interaction between it and the host cells can be influenced. 
Hydrogenous and deuterated (at NDF) variants of the fibronectin fragment, 9th-10th type III domains (FIII9-10) were investigated for their ability to mediate adhesion of cultured cells to TiO2 surface by neutron reflectivity on Platypus at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering.
NDF case study: Deuterated protein and Neutron Reflectivity graph

McIntosh L, Whitelaw C, Rekas A, Holt SA, van der Walle CF. Interrogating protonated/deuterated fibronectin fragment layers adsorbed to titania by neutron reflectivity and their concomitant control over cell adhesion. Interface, 2015, 12(107). 

Storage in solid Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOF)
Neutron diffraction experiments are used to unveil the site-specific binding properties of CO2 within MOF materials while systematically varying both the amount of CO2 and the temperature. Deuterated materials enabled a comprehensive study of carbon dioxide adsorption in the metal-organic frameworks M2 (dobdc) (M = Mg, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn).
NDF case study: MOF graph

Deuterated biopolymer and Infrared (IR) Microspectroscopy
Deuteration of bacterial biopolyesters to probe phase separation using the Infrared Microspectroscopy beamline at the Australian Synchrotron.
NDF case study: Deuterated biopolymer graph
Russell RA, Darwish TA, Puskar L, Martin DE, Holden PJ, Foster LJR.  Deuterated polymers for probing phase separation using infrared microspectroscopy. Biomacromolecules, 2014, 15(2): 644-649. 

Biomembrane research 
Dr. Anton Le Brun uses neutron scattering techniques in combination with deuteration to research phenomena that occur at biological membranes. This has included production of deuterated lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from E. coli for studying structural aspects of the Gram-negative bacterial outer membrane using neutron reflectometry.
NDF case study: Biomembrane graph
Le Brun AP, Clifton LA, Halbert CE, Lin B, Meron M, Holden PJ, Lakey JH, Holt SA: Structural Characterisation of a Model Gram-negative Bacterial Surface using Lipopolysaccharides from Rough Strains of Escherichia coli. Biomacromolecules, 2013, 14(6):2014-2022. 

Structural characterisation of an HIV coat protein - calmodulin interation
Structural characterisation of the interaction between:
  • HIV-1 structural matrix protein (MA)
  • The intracellular mediator protein, calmodulin (CaM)

Binding of HIV-1 MA protein to deuterated calmodulin, modelled from small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) conducted at multiple solvent contrasts.
NDF case study: Structural characterisation graph

Triple-labelled hydrophobin (2H/15N/ 13C) and NMR 
Investigation of a fungal hydrophobin (EAS∆15) rodlet structure using recombinantly expressed 2H/15N/13C labelled EAS∆15 and solid-state NMR. 

NDF case study: Triple labelled protein graph 
Morris VK, Linser R, Wilde KL, Duff AP, Sunde M, Kwan AH. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy of functional amyloid from a fungal hydrophobin: a well-ordered β–sheet core amidst structural heterogeneity. Angew Chem Int Ed, 2012, 51:12621 –12625.

The morphology and structure of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED)
Deuteration of the organic compounds provided the contrast, enabling detection of diffusion between two layers of an OLED when heated, using neutron reflectometry.

 NDF case study: OLED graph

Proposals for molecular deuteration should be submitted at You can email or contact Professor Peter Holden on + 61 (2) 9717 3991 or other NDF staff at any time.