School of Chemistry

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Bruce Turnbull

Associate Professor
Member of the Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry group

Contact details

Room: G14
Tel: +44 (0)113 3437438


Carbohydrate Chemistry
Protein-Carbohydrate Interactions
Multivalent Interactions
Synthetic Biology

Photograph of Bruce Turnbull

Research interests

My interests lie at the interface of carbohydrate chemistry and molecular glycobiology. In our work we combine synthetic chemistry and biophysical techniques to study carbohydrate-binding proteins. Although such interactions are essential for many normal biological processes, they also facilitate viral and bacterial infection, cancer metastasis, and entry into cells by bacterial toxin proteins. We are investigating the interactions between cholera toxin and cell surface oligosaccharides, and using this information to design small molecule inhibitors of cholera toxin using fragment-based approaches. We are also studying the mechanisms by which this pentavalent protein interacts with large multivalent inhibitors based on dendrimers. We aim to harness these multivalent aggregation processes to create novel nanoscale materials. Although much of our work is directed towards understanding biology at the molecular level, synthetic chemistry remains our major research activity. We are developing novel methods for the stereoselective synthesis of oligosaccharides and investigating the mechanisms of neighbouring group participation in carbohydrate chemistry.

Useful links



Turnbull WB; Fu O; Pukin AV; Quarles van Ufford HC; Branson TR; Thies-Weesie DME; Visser GM; Pieters RJ Tetra- versus Pentavalent Inhibitors of Cholera Toxin ChemistryOpen -, 2015
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Mahon CS; Fascione MA; Sakonsinsiri C; McAllister TE; Bruce Turnbull W; Fulton DA Templating carbohydrate-functionalised polymer-scaffolded dynamic combinatorial libraries with lectins Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 13 2756-2761, 2015
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Branson TR; McAllister TE; Garcia-Hartjes J; Fascione MA; Ross JF; Warriner SL; Wennekes T; Zuilhof H; Turnbull WB A protein-based pentavalent inhibitor of the cholera toxin B-subunit. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 53 8323-8327, 2014
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Williamson DJ; Webb ME; Turnbull WB Depsipeptide substrates for sortase-mediated N-terminal protein ligation. Nat Protoc 9 253-262, 2014
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Fisher M; Basak R; Kalverda AP; Fishwick CW; Turnbull WB; Nelson A Discovery of novel FabF ligands inspired by platensimycin by integrating structure-based design with diversity-oriented synthetic accessibility. Org Biomol Chem 12 486-494, 2014
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Branson TR; Turnbull WB Bacterial toxin inhibitors based on multivalent scaffolds. Chemical Society Reviews 42 4613-4622, 2013
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Bernardi A; Jiménez-Barbero J; Casnati A; De Castro C; Darbre T; Fieschi F; Finne J; Funken H; Jaeger K-E; Lahmann M; Lindhorst TK; Marradi M; Messner P; Molinaro A; Murphy PV; Nativi C; Oscarson S; Penadés S; Peri F; Pieters RJ; Renaudet O; Reymond J-L; Richichi B; Rojo J; Sansone F; Schäffer C; Turnbull WB; Velasco-Torrijos T; Vidal S; Vincent S; Wennekes T; Zuilhof H; Imberty A Multivalent glycoconjugates as anti-pathogenic agents Chemical Society Reviews 42 4709-4727, 2013
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Williamson DJ; Fascione MA; Webb ME; Turnbull WB Efficient N-terminal labeling of proteins by use of sortase. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 51 9377-9380, 2012

Turnbull WB; Stalford SA Methylthioxylose--a jewel in the mycobacterial crown? Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 10 5698-5706, 2012
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Mandal PK; Branson TR; Hayes ED; Ross JF; Gavín JA; Daranas AH; Turnbull WB Towards a structural basis for the relationship between blood group and the severity of El Tor cholera Angewandte Chemie International Edition 51 5143-5146, 2012
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Fascione MA; Adshead SJ; Mandal PK; Kilner CA; Leach AG; Turnbull WB Mechanistic studies on a sulfoxide transfer reaction mediated by diphenyl sulfoxide/triflic anhydride. Chemistry 18 2987-2997, 2012
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Fascione MA; Webb NJ; Kilner CA; Warriner SL; Turnbull WB Stereoselective glycosylations using oxathiane spiroketal glycosyl donors Carbohydrate Research 348 6-13, 2012
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Fascione MA; Kilner CA; Leach AG; Turnbull WB Do glycosyl sulfonium ions engage in neighbouring group participation? A study of oxathiane glycosyl donors and the basis for their stereoselectivity Chemistry: A European Journal 18 321-333, 2012
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Joce C; White R; Stockley PG; Warriner S; Turnbull WB; Nelson A Design, synthesis and in vitro evaluation of novel bivalent S-adenosylmethionine analogues. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 22 278-284, 2012
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Turnbull WB Biophysical Studies on the Interactions of Bacterial Toxins In Proceedings of the International Beilstein Symposium on Glyco-Bioinformatics: Cracking the Sugar Code by Navigating the Glycospace , 2012
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Pellizzaro ML; McGhee AM; Renton LC; Nix MG; Fisher J; Turnbull WB; Wilson AJ Conformer-independent ureidoimidazole motifs--tools to probe conformational and tautomeric effects on the molecular recognition of triply hydrogen-bonded heterodimers. Chemistry 17 14508-14517, 2011
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Mandal PK; Turnbull WB Studies on the synthesis of Lewis-y oligosaccharides. Carbohydr Res 346 2113-2120, 2011
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Turnbull WB Multivalent interactions: a hop, skip and jump. Nat Chem 3 267-268, 2011

Turnbull WB Case study: Thermodynamic dissection of the cholera toxin - ganglioside GM1 interaction International Drug Discovery 2011 56-57, 2011

Turnbull WB; Hayes ED Monovalent and multivalent inhibitors of bacterial toxins In Synthesis and Biological Applications of Multivalent Glycoconjugates , 2011
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Fascione MA; Turnbull WB Benzyne arylation of oxathiane glycosyl donors Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 6 -, 2010
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Stalford SA; Kilner CA; Leach AG; Turnbull WB Neighbouring group participation vs. addition to oxacarbenium ions: studies on the synthesis of mycobacterial oligosaccharides Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 7 4842-4852, 2009
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Fascione MA; Adshead SJ; Stalford SA; Kilner CA; Leach AG; Turnbull WB Stereoselective glycosylation using oxathiane glycosyl donors Chemical Communications 5841-5843, 2009
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Sisu C; Baron AJ; Branderhorst HM; Connell SD; Weijers CA; de Vries R; Hayes ED; Pukin AV; Gilbert M; Pieters RJ; Zuilhof H; Visser GM; Turnbull WB The influence of ligand valency on aggregation mechanisms for inhibiting bacterial toxins. Chembiochem 10 329-337, 2009
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Stalford SA; Fascione MA; Sasindran SJ; Chatterjee D; Dhandayuthapani S; Turnbull WB A natural carbohydrate substrate for Mycobacterium tuberculosis methionine sulfoxide reductase A CHEM COMMUN 110-112, 2009

Turnbull WB; Fascione MA; Stalford SA Product class 14: Glycosyl sulfur, selenium, and tellurium compounds Science of Synthesis 29 923-969, 2007

Badjic JD; Nelson A; Cantrill SJ; Turnbull WB; Stoddart JF Multivalency and cooperativity in supramolecular chemistry ACCOUNTS CHEM RES 38 723-732, 2005

Turnbull WB Divided We Fall? Studying low affinity fragments of ligands by ITC, 2005
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Kalverda AP; Thompson GS; Turnbull WB The importance of protein structural dynamics and the contribution of NMR spectroscopy In Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics , 2005

Turnbull WB; Shimizu K; Chatterjee D; Homans SW; Treumann A Identification of the 5-Methylthiopentosyl Substituent in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Lipoarabinomannan Angewandte Chemie: International Edition 43 3918-3922, 2004

Bingham RJ; Findlay JBC; Hsieh SY; Kalverda AP; Kjeliberg A; Perazzolo C; Phillips SEV; Seshadri K; Trinh CH; Turnbull WB; Bodenhausen G; Homans SW Thermodynamics of binding of 2-methoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine and 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine to the major urinary protein J AM CHEM SOC 126 1675-1681, 2004

Turnbull WB; Precious BL; Homans SW Dissecting the cholera toxin-ganglioside GM1 interaction by isothermal titration calorimetry J AM CHEM SOC 126 1047-1054, 2004

Turnbull WB; Hernandez Daranas AM On the Value of c: Can Low Affinity Systems Be Studied by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry? Journal of the American Chemical Society 125 14859-14866, 2003

Kalovidouris SA; Blixt O; Nelson A; Vidal S; Turnbull WB; Paulson JC; Stoddart JF Chemically defined sialoside scaffolds for investigation of multivalent interactions with sialic acid binding proteins. J Org Chem 68 8485-8493, 2003
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Yung A; Turnbull WB; Kalverda AP; Thompson GS; Homans SW; Kitov P; Bundle DR Large-scale millisecond intersubunit dynamics in the B subunit homopentamer of the toxin derived from Escherichia coli O157. J Am Chem Soc 125 13058-13062, 2003
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Nelson A; Kalovidouris S; Vidal S; Turnbull WB; Blixt O; Paulson J Carbohydrate-based glycodendrimers for the multivalent display of sialic acid., 2003

Turnbull WB; Kalovidouris SA; Stoddart JF Large oligosaccharide-based glycodendrimers. Chemistry 8 2988-3000, 2002
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Turnbull WB; Stoddart JF Design and synthesis of glycodendrimers. J Biotechnol 90 231-255, 2002
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Kalovidouris SA; Turnbull WB; Stoddart JF Glycodendrimers based on cellobiosyl-derived monomers Canadian Journal of Chemistry 80 983-991, 2002

Turnbull WB; Harrison JA; Kartha KPR; Schenkman S; Field RA Observations on chemical and enzymatic approaches to alpha-2,3-sialylated octyl beta-lactoside Tetrahedron 58 3207-3216, 2002

Kalovidouris SA; Turnbull WB; Stoddart JF Introducing diversity into alternative dendron architectures. ABSTR PAP AM CHEM S 222 U172-U172, 2001

Stoddart JF; Vidal S; Turnbull WB Glycodendrimers: Tools for studying lectin-carbohydrate interactions. ABSTR PAP AM CHEM S 221 U172-U172, 2001

Harrison JA; Kartha KPR; Turnbull WB; Scheuerl SL; Naismith JH; Schenkman S; Field RA Hydrolase and sialyltransferase activities of Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase towards NeuAc-alpha-2,3-Gal-beta-O-PNP Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 11 141-144, 2001

Turnbull WB; Pease AR; Stoddart JF Synthetic carbohydrate dendrimers, part 8 - Toward the synthesis of large oligosaccharide-based dendrimers CHEMBIOCHEM 1 70-74, 2000

Turnbull WB; Field RA Thio-oligosaccharides of sialic acid - synthesis of an alpha(2 ->3) sialyl galactoside via a gulofuranose/galactopyranose approach J CHEM SOC PERK T 1 1859-1866, 2000

Stoddart JF; Turnbull WB; Pease AR Oligosaccharide-based glycodendrimers. ABSTR PAP AM CHEM S 218 U209-U209, 1999

Riddell FG; Rogerson M; Turnbull WB; Fulop F Intramolecular motions in crystalline phosphonium salts studied by P-31 and C-13 CP-MAS NMR spectroscopy J CHEM SOC PERK T 2 95-99, 1997


Guo Y; Wang W; Sakonsinsiri C; Tomlinson D; Tiede C; Fascione MA; Zhang H; Kong Y; Turnbull WB; McPherson M; Zhou D An ultra-efficient ligand exchange enabling quantum dot-FRET for sensitive ratiometric biosensing and probing multivalent biorecognition Nature Communications -,