Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology

Christine Orengo

Professor of Bioinformatics

Professor Christine Orengo is based in the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB). She heads the CATH Team which maintains and develops the CATH protein domain structure classification. This was established by Orengo and Prof. Janet Thornton in 1994 and with its sister resource, Gene3D, provides information on evolutionary relationships for 110,000 domain structures and 16 million protein sequences from 2000 completed genomes including human, mouse, fly, worm, yeast and E.Coli. CATH/Gene3D also provides information on experimentally characterised protein interactions and predicted functional networks.

The CATH team develops algorithms for protein structure comparison, prediction and analysis. They build computational protocols for predicting the functions of proteins and the functional networks in which these proteins participate. A recent competition (CAFA) to assess function prediction showed that the CATH methods perform competitively against other purely homology based approaches. Functional classification of relatives in CATH allows the detection of highly conserved residue sites essential for functional activity and for interactions with other proteins. In collaboration with Dr Andrew Martin, UCL, this information is being used to assess the impacts of pathogenic residue mutations (SNPs) in proteins implicated in human diseases.

The Orengo Group also collaborate with several experimental biology groups researching signalling pathways implicated in chronic pain (with The London Pain Consortium) and ageing (with Professor Jurg Bahler, UCL) in order to characterise the biological processes associated with these conditions. They collaborate with two structural genomics consortia in the States (Midwest Centre for Structural Genomics and Centre for Structural Genomics in Infectious Diseases) to target proteins implicated in virulence and drug resistance in pathogenic bacteria. They have a long standing Wellcome funded collaboration with Professor Janet Thornton at the EBI to functionally characterise proteins in CATH-Gene3D and a BBSRC funded collaboration with Professor David Jones, UCL, to provide predicted structures and for sequence relatives in CATH.