Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering
Professor, School of Medicine
Dept of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences
- Lab hike in Frontenac Park
Au revoir Poli
It's au revoir, not good-bye, as Poli heads back to St. Andrews U. in Scotland to continue her studies. She promises to be back to visit and grow even bigger crystals! All the best Poli, it was a delight having you in the lab.
Davies Lab Volleyball game
Oct. 1, 2021
The first Davies Lab social since the pandemic took place Friday afternoon with a friendly volleyball game at Lake Ontario Park. The score was win-win for all, with star players on both sides of the net. The teams, joined by a few working lab members, then convened at Peter and Lucy's for some outdoor, distanced, non-contact refreshments.
Topsy Farms Outing - Amherst Island
Many thanks to Rob and Melanie who invited all the lab to Amherst Island for a fun visit to Topsy Farms - where we got to hold baby lamb only a few days old! After tearing ourselves away from the little cuties, we enjoyed a delicious barbecue and toasted marshmallows at Rob and Melanie's fabulous home.
March 22, 2021
Congratulations to Laurie Graham on her recent publication in Trends in Genetics. This FOCUS article advances our research on the horizontal transfer of lectin-like antifreeze protein genes between fish species. Using the recently sequenced herring genome, Laurie was able to prove that the gene has jumped from herring to smelt. Surprisingly, the antifreeze gene did not start out in the herring but was transferred in from another fish species that we are trying to identify.
This research advance is the subject of a news article released today by Queen’s University. The publication, “Horizontal Gene Transfer in Vertebrates: A Fishy Tale”, is available through open access in the March issue of Trends in Genetics and is also available online and from PubMed. Our colleague, Thomas Hansen, has prepared a YouTube video explaining this discovery in the context of genetic modification of organisms.
The story has been picked up by CBC, Quanta Magazine, and The Atlantic.
January 18, 2021
Congratulations to Connor Scholl on his recent publication in FEBS. J. that reports the crystal structure of a snow flea antifreeze protein and its arrangement of ice-like surface waters. This is the result of a collaboration with our dear colleague, Professor Sakae Tsuda, who with his wife Harumi, collected this Collembola species near Sapporo, Japan and showed that it contained a potent antifreeze activity.
FEBS J. 2021 Jan 18.
doi: 10.1111/febs.15717. Online ahead of print.
Crystal waters on the nine polyproline type II helical bundle springtail antifreeze protein from Granisotoma rainieri match the ice lattice
Connor L Scholl 1 , Sakae Tsuda 2 , Laurie A Graham 1 , Peter L Davies 1
• PMID: 33460499
• DOI: 10.1111/febs.15717
Jack o'lanterns, local band, and where's Peter?
October 31, 2019
Fall Hike in Frontenac Park
Saturday Oct. 26, 2019
A beautiful fall hike in Frontenac Provincial Park, on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. We picked a perfect day for some fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and picnic! (Photo credits Pooja and Peter)
Congratulations Dr. Saeed Yazdi
Sept. 18, 2019
We gathered for another PhD defense celebration with Key lime pie - the third in 12 months. This one was in honour of Dr. Saeed Rismani Yazdi, our expert in microfluidics, who successfully defended in August. The pot luck was attended by the newly wedded Tyler and Lauren, who are in the process of moving to Toronto where Tyler will be a PDF in Jeff Lee's lab. It was also our opportunity to welcome to the lab two new Honours project students, Jenny Min and Emily Lind, and our new graduate student, Jordan Forbes. Welcome Jenny, Emily, and Jordan!
Congratulations Dr. Tyler Vance!
May 10, 2019
Tyler defended his PhD thesis with aplomb! and the entire Davies lab celebrated his success with GUSTO! A hearty dinner was topped off with Peter's specialty PhD Key Lime Pie, of course. #tradition Congratulations and all the best in Toronto, Dr. Vance!
Biochem Body Pump Challenge!
July 12, 2019
This was the 3rd of our 4-yearly Body Pump Challenges for the Biochem program. Great turnout ... but sadly, the Davies lab was just beaten on percent attendance by the Allingham lab. Well done Allinghammers! Thanks and congrats to all the pumpers, and thanks to super instructor Anna Coe and GoodLife for their support.
Hawaiian shirt Ice Cream Day
July 10, 2019
Incoming Lab Social Convener Brett's inaugural event! Yum!!
Lab Bowling Night
Jan. 21, 2019
Lab Bowling Night with colleagues from the 6th floor. Celebrity bowlers include: Midnight Cowboy, Falling Star, Marie Let Them Eat Cake, Cosmo Kramer, and Mitch Marner. Thank you to Social Convener Tyler for organizing indoor bowling on the coldest night of the year.
Brett at the Brooklyn
Nov. 8, 2018
Who purifies proteins and does PCR by day, and plays in a band by night? Why, Brett Kinrade - of course! Knowing how good his lab work is, we went to check out the music. He rocks at both!
Lab hike in Frontenac Park
Sunday Nov. 4, 2018
We had lovely late fall weather for our 13-km hike around Slide Lake to enjoy Canadian Shield scenery.
Photo credits: Marie and Cristina.
Congratulations Dr. Christian McCartney!
October 19, 2018
Congratulations to Christian McCartney on the successful defense of his PhD thesis! We were honoured to have Dr. Yasuko Ono who came all the way from the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science in Japan to visit us and serve as Christian's external examiner. On the evening of the defense we gathered for a potluck dinner celebration, with scotch and sake tasting, and the traditional Key lime pie for the new Doctor of Philosophy.
Advances in Molecular Biology 2018 Symposium
Donald Gordon Centre, Queen's University
August 3 - 4, 2018
To celebrate Sherry Gauthier's semi-retirement after over 30 years as chief lab technician, mentor, and den mother, Peter organized a Symposium in her honour. Over 40 lab alumni travelled across the globe for this wonderful occasion - from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, California, Tennessee, Ohio, British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario! Four sessions of illuminating talks on topics ranging from tumour microenvironment to gene therapy, from wheat fungi to human microbiomes. The fun continued with a Davies Lab traditional croquet game complete with pink flamingos courtesy of Dr. Pliny Hayes. Family and friends joined the Friday dinner, and Sherry was deservedly serenaded and thanked and hugged for her help and support over the years. Saturday afternoon ended with a nostalgia tour of the sixth floor of Botterell Hall! Thank you to everyone for coming from far and wide for this memorable lab reunion celebration!
Tribute to Gordon H. Dixon
Some background to “Protein Evolution Revisited” by Peter L. Davies* and Laurie Graham – published September 2018 (PMID: 30176752).
In recognition of the lifework of Dr. Gordon H. Dixon (1930/03/25 – 2016/07/24), two of Gordon’s former trainees - Rafael Oliva and Stephen A. Krawetz - commissioned a Special Issue of Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine in his memory. Peer-reviewed papers were contributed by researchers who trained in the Dixon lab, or were collaborators. The modified preface to our review (below) also gives an insight into how we came to work on antifreeze proteins.
Peter Davies: Gordon H. Dixon (GHD), one of my post-doctoral mentors, wrote an inspiring review on “Mechanisms of Protein Evolution” in the 1966 2nd edition of ‘Essays in Biochemistry’. It was written only thirteen years after the discovery of double helix DNA structure, at a time when the genetic code had just been deciphered, nucleic acid sequencing was tortuous, and protein sequencing was THE way to study gene variation and mutation. GHD was able to capture the emerging field of molecular biology in this article and illustrate how protein evolutionary mechanisms were being deduced from tiny amounts of data. I read “Mechanisms of Protein Evolution” as an undergraduate student at University of Wales, UK and was fascinated by the emerging links between protein divergence and the evolution of species. GHD’s review encouraged me to continue the study of biochemistry at the graduate level, which led in turn to a career in research. In 1968, I was accepted into the graduate program in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia, not realizing that GHD had moved there from Toronto. When I found out he was in the department I was told Gordon’s lab was full. Indeed it was crowded, and I remember at one point a post-doctoral fellow using the ultracentrifuge as a desk, hoping that the rotors were well balanced. I made many friends in his lab and followed their work on rainbow trout spermatogenesis, histone modification and protamine expression with great interest.
My opportunity to work with Gordon came in 1974 as a post-doctoral fellow when GHD returned to Canada from Sussex, UK to set up a new lab at the University of Calgary’s Medical School next to the Foothills Hospital. By this time it was realized that eukaryotic messenger RNAs had poly (A) tails and the isolation of protamine mRNA had been achieved and perfected in the GHD lab by Lashitew Gedamu. One of the collaborative projects that I worked on with Lashitew in Calgary was a study of the proteins bound to protamine mRNA that formed messenger ribonucleoprotein particles. My planned project as a new independent investigator and Assistant Professor at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON) in 1977 was an examination of messenger ribonucleoprotein particles in developing muscle. But a friendship formed at UBC with one of GHD’s graduate students, Choy-Leung Hew, changed all that. Choy had worked with Gordon on haptoglobins and was an expert in protein chemistry. He joined the faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1974, and soon after developed an interest in the recently discovered antifreeze proteins (AFPs) of marine fishes. Choy recruited me to the study of AFPs to assist with the molecular biology aspects because I had gained experience in mRNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, and nucleic acid sequencing from my research with GHD in Calgary. It was a fortuitous transition as AFPs have been an extremely productive field for investigating protein structure-function relationships. However, some of the most fascinating insights about antifreeze proteins are those that relate to protein evolution - the theme of the review article GHD wrote over 50 years ago that is echoed here. Our review on protein evolution features examples from the field of antifreeze proteins, but with some parallels to protamines.