Professor David Hornby

School of Biosciences

Professor of Biochemistry
+44 114 222 4232

Full contact details

Professor David Hornby
School of Biosciences
Firth Court
Western Bank
S10 2TN

I started my research career interested in metabolic enzyme structure and function and along the way I have turned my attention to increasingly more complex enzymes and proteins, especially those involved in nucleic acid transactions.

This has led me to question the foundations of our understanding of enzyme catalysis.

My research currently involves a series of collaborations aimed at exploring the evolution of enzyme mechanism via random mutagenesis of several enzymes and proteins.

A more recent interest has arisen through collaboration with the Microbiology community at Sheffield and is the challenge of understanding the molecular basis of antibiotic resistance, in particular methicillin resistance.

Career history

  • 2013 - 2015: Director of Innovation, Liverpool Life Sciences UTC
  • 2012: Professor of Biochemistry Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (on sabbatical leave at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)
  • 2007 - 2012: Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • 2008 - 2011: Director of Enterprise in Life Sciences
  • 1999 - 2007: Professor of Biochemistry Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • 1999 - 2002: Director of the Transgenomic Research Laboratory
  • 1998 - 1999: Reader Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • 1994 - 1998: Senior Lecturer Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • 1992 - 1993: Visiting Scientist Department Molecular Biology The Scripps Research Institute California
  • 1990 - 1994: Lecturer Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • 1990: EMBO fellowship Gene Expression Program EMBL, Heidelberg
  • 1986 - 1990: Lecturer Department of Biochemistry
  • 1985 - 1986: Postdoctoral research associate Biozentrum der Universitat Basel, Switzerland
  • 1984 - 1985: Postdoctoral research associate Departments of Biochemistry, Sheffield and Genetics, Leeds
  • 1980 - 1984: PhD (Biochemistry) University of Sheffield
Research interests

DNA Modifying Enzymes: Cytosine-C5-specific DNA methyltransferases, in particular the monospecific enzyme, M.HhaI and the multi-specific enzyme M.SPRI. The aim is to identify essential residues involved in base flipping in the former and to determine the structural basis of multiple specificity in the latter.

RNA and DNA Polymerases present opportunities for developing a range of molecular biology methods and are in themselves key enzymes in cellular physiology. The former are of interest as targets for structure determination by new cryo-EM methods and the latter is a work horse for the development of in vitro mutagenesis methods in use in my lab.

Multi-enzyme complexes often contain components that are shared by other complexes. Using random mutagenesis methods, we are interested in the evolutionary pressures facing such promiscuous subunits, such as the E3 component of bacterial oxoacid dehydrogenases.

Enzymes are thought to bring substrates into precise alignment in order to stimulate product formation. Since many naturally occurring enzymes that catalyze the same reaction exhibit significant primary structural diversity, we are using random mutagenesis combined with screening and structural methods, to identify the sensitive and essential elements of primary structure in a range of enzyme catalyzed reactions and antibiotic resistance targets.


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Journal articles

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Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Dickman M, Rose JP, Marino MA & Hornby DP (2002) Analysis of the RNA component of human telomerase and its associated activity.. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS, Vol. 71(4) (pp 333-333) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Matin MM & Hornby DP (2002) A rapid, accurate and quantitative method for analysis of the methylation status of imprinted genes, using primer extension and IP RP HPLC.. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS, Vol. 10 (pp 294-294) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Brewis IA, Chapman NR, Barratt CLR, Hornby DP & Moore HDM (1995) The signal transduction pathway of the acrosome reaction in human spermatozoa in response to purified recombinant human ZP3. HUMAN SPERM ACROSOME REACTION, Vol. 236 (pp 426-427) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Chapman NR, Hornby DP, Barratt CLR & Moore HDM (1995) The production and purification of recombinant human ZP3 from E-6coli. HUMAN SPERM ACROSOME REACTION, Vol. 236 (pp 404-405) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barratt CLR & Hornby DP (1995) Induction of the human acrosome reaction by rhuZP3. HUMAN SPERM ACROSOME REACTION, Vol. 236 (pp 105-122) RIS download Bibtex download
Teaching activities

Level 3 modules

  • MBB308 Molecular Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology (Module Coordinator)

Level 2 modules

  • FCP201 Molecules to Market (Module Coordinator)
  • MBB267 Molecular Bioscience 2B
Professional activities and memberships
  • 2015 Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)