Research Interests

Our research uses structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology techniques underpinned by synthetic biology technologies to answer questions relating to the function of bacterial compartmentalization systems and their rational design as platforms for biotechnology and synthetic biology.  We are interested in determining the structural and functional basis for the recruitment and encapsulation of proteins within metabolic compartments, and the biochemistry that occurs within these semi-permeable structures. Through an understanding of the basic biology and design principles of various compartments, we hope to use these as synthetic biology platforms for the production of valuable natural products, and as scaffolds for industrial biotechnology and nano-technology.


Jon Marles-Wright obtained his PhD in structural biology from the University of Oxford, where he focused on understanding how human immune receptors interact with their targets. For his post-doctoral training he moved to the University of Newcastle, where his research focus moved to bacterial cell biology. Jon was appointed to a Chancellor’s Fellowship in 2012, following a two-year career development fellowship at the University of Newcastle where he developed his interest in the structural basis of metabolic compartmentalization within bacteria.


The major potential impacts of our research are related to the development of modular systems based on bacterial compartments for use in industrial biotechnology including: 1. platforms designed for the production of toxic proteins within compartments; 2. encapsulation of biosynthetic pathways for valuable natural products to minimize loss of intermediates and maximize metabolic efficiency; 3. use of compartments in bio-mining and bio-remediation for the sequestration and crystallization of toxic metal ions into nano-particles.

Research outputs

Protein X-ray crystal structures can be found here.

Single particle EM reconstructions here.

Posters and presentations are also available for download with a CC-BY license.

About is the home of Jon Marles-Wright’s research activity and science blog.

I can be found in a professional capacity at Edinburgh University where I work as a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology and Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology in the School of Biosciences and tweeting about science and life @jmarlesw.