John Sutherland (chemist)
John Sutherland at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2017
John David Sutherland
24 July 1962
|Alma mater||University of Oxford (BA, DPhil)|
|Awards||Darwin Medal (2014)|
Tilden Prize (2011)
|Institutions||University of Manchester |
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
|Thesis||Genetic engineering of penicillin biosynthesis (1988)|
|Doctoral advisor||Jack Baldwin|
John David Sutherland (born 24 July 1962) is a British chemist at Medical Research Council (MRC), Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Protein & Nucleic Acid Chemistry Division. His work on the possible chemistry of early life has been widely recognised.
Sutherland obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford as a student at Lincoln College, Oxford in 1984 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree supervised by Jack Baldwin at Balliol College, Oxford.
Career and Research
Sutherland lectured organic chemistry at Oxford for eight years. In 1998 he accepted a position at the University of Manchester as Professor of Biological Chemistry, a position he held until 2010 before moving to Cambridge and the Medical Research Council (UK) Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Since 2013, he has been a Simons Investigator and member of the Steering Committee for the Simons Collaboration on the Origin of Life.
In 2009, Sutherland, along with Matthew Powner and Beatrice Gerland, detailed the first plausible prebiotic synthesis of activated pyrimidine nucleotides, which had previously been a significant problem for the RNA World hypothesis of early life emergence. Previous prebiotic syntheses of nucleotides had attempted to form them through assembly of their constituent parts, a nucleobase, sugar, and phosphate, but with only limited efficacy for purine nucleotides, and no success for pyrimidine nucleotides. However, Sutherland produced a synthesis resulting in the formation of β-ribocytidine-2',3' cyclic phosphate, a partially activated nucleotide, that is remarkable for its stereospecifity and yield. Instead of assembling the nucleotide components in stepwise linear reactions, the synthesis proceeds through the reaction of cyanoacetylene with an aminooxazole intermediate that is formed from glycolaldehyde and cyanamide, molecules that were likely present on early Earth.
In 2015, in an article in Nature Chemistry, Sutherland demonstrated a plausible prebiotic scheme showing that the precursors of pyrimidine nucleotides formed from hydrogen cyanide can also form precursors of lipids and amino acids, providing significant evidence that early life may have emerged from a common chemistry on prebiotic Earth. His work has been heralded by Nobel-prize winning geneticist Jack Szostak as an important advance in understanding the origins of life.
Honours and awards
- 2009: The Max Tishler Prize Lectureship, Harvard University, USA
- 2011: The Royal Society of Chemistry Tilden Prize
- 2012: Co-winner of the Origin of Life Challenge
- 2014: The Royal Society Darwin Medal
- 2017: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society
- Powner, Matthew W.; Gerland, Beatrice; Sutherland, John D. (2009). "Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions". Nature. 459: 239–242. doi:10.1038/nature08013. PMID 19444213.
- Powner, Matthew W.; Sutherl, John D. (2011). "Prebiotic chemistry: a new modus operandi". Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 366: 2870–2877. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0134. PMC 3158916.
- "Institute Overview LMB".[dead link]
- "Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life: John Sutherland | Simons Foundation". www.simonsfoundation.org. Archived from the original on 2016-11-18. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
- "John Sutherland co-wins the Origin of Life Challenge – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology". MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 2016-11-18.[dead link]
- John Sutherland publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
- Sutherland, John David (1988). Genetic engineering of penicillin biosynthesis. bodleian.ox.ac.uk (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 53558806. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.253132.
- "Curriculum Vitae of John D. Sutherland"
- "Nicholas Wade, "Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life", New York Times, 13 May 2009". Archived from the original on 2017-03-21.
- Powner, Matthew W.; Gerland, Béatrice; Sutherland, John D. (May 2009). "Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions". Nature. 459 (7244): 239–242. doi:10.1038/nature08013. PMID 19444213.
- Fuller, W. D.; Sanchez, R. A.; Orgel, L. E. (14 June 1972). "Studies in prebiotic synthesis. VI. Synthesis of purine nucleosides". Journal of Molecular Biology. 67 (1): 25–33. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(72)90383-x. ISSN 0022-2836. PMID 4339529.
- E, Orgel Leslie (1 January 2004). "Prebiotic Chemistry and the Origin of the RNA World". Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 39 (2): 99–123. doi:10.1080/10409230490460765. ISSN 1040-9238. PMID 15217990.
- Patel, B.H.; Percivalle, C.; Ritson, D.J.; Duffy, C.D.; Sutherland, John D. (2015). "Common origins of RNA, protein, and lipid precursors in a cyanosulfidic protometabolism". Nature Chemistry. 7 (4): 301–307. doi:10.1038/nchem.2202. PMC 4568310. PMID 25803468.
- Patel, Bhavesh H.; Percivalle, Claudia; Ritson, Dougal J.; Duffy, Colm D.; Sutherland, John D. "Common origins of RNA, protein and lipid precursors in a cyanosulfidic protometabolism". Nature Chemistry. 7 (4): 301–307. doi:10.1038/nchem.2202. PMC 4568310. PMID 25803468.
- Wade, Nicholas (4 May 2015). "Making Sense of the Chemistry That Led to Life on Earth". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-07-09. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
- "John Sutherland awarded the 2014 Royal Society Darwin Medal – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology". MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
- Anon (2017). "John Sutherland". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2017-05-23. Retrieved 2017-05-28.