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Tributes paid to ‘talented experimental scientist’ Chris Oubridge, of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Tributes have been paid to talented experimental scientist Chris Oubridge by colleagues at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, following his death.

A senior scientist in Kiyoshi Nagai’s group at the LMB for 32 years, his achievements are marked out by a trail of landmark papers explaining how some of the cell’s essential molecular machines do their work.

Chris Oubridge was a senior scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Picture: MRC LMB
Chris Oubridge was a senior scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Picture: MRC LMB

Chris, who was born in 1966, studied microbiology at the University of Bristol, receiving his BSc in 1988 before joining Kiyoshi’s new group in the Structural Studies Division at the LMB.

During their long collaboration, they conducted structural analysis of the spliceosome, using both crystallographic and, more recently, pioneering cryo-EM methods to reveal in great detail how the spliceosome is assembled, activated and remodelled.

The spliceosome is a large, complex molecular machine found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, and is made from small nuclear RNAs (snRNA) and about 80 proteins.

Its role is an editing one within our cells - removing nucleotide sequences known as introns from messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNAs), then splicing together flanking sequences called exons.

Every human cell contains around 100,000 spliceosomes, which remove more than 200,000 different intron sequences.

Chris also contributed to Kiyoshi’s other main project: structural analysis of the signal recognition particle (SRP), the RNA-protein complex involved in translocation of secretory proteins across membranes.

Jan Löwe, director of the LMB , said: “Chris’ dedication, perseverance and talent as a staff biochemist and structural biologist enabled the astounding mechanisms of pre-mRNA splicing to be revealed by Kiyoshi Nagai’s group. His passing, as that of Kiyoshi only a few months ago, brings their conquest to a painful and premature end, but it may be some consolation that both saw the bulk of their discoveries completed.”

Chris was described by the LMB as a hugely talented experimental scientist and a thoroughly congenial lab-mate.

He was also a perennial contributor to one of the lab’s great traditions - the LMB Christmas party skit, using his impish sense of humour.

Following his death on August 25, the LMB said: “Chris was a treasured colleague and a great friend to many in the LMB community. He will be greatly missed.”

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