Dr. Julian Rutherford


Research Focus

Mechanisms used by fungi to sense and acquire nutrients

Scientific Activities

Julian Rutherford has a research group in the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences at Newcastle University and is also a lecturer for the School of Biomedical Sciences teaching students on the Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences BSc Hons programmes.

His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms used by fungi to acquire nutrients, particularly nitrogen compounds and trace metal ions such as copper. Studies are undertaken using the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans and the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.

A major interest relates to the role of a group of ammonium receptors that regulate fungal growth. Fungi use ammonium as a nitrogen source and a class of ammonium transporters function both as ammonium importers and sensors of ammonium availability. Pseudohyphal growth by S. cerevisiae is used as a model system to understand how ammonium import regulates signal transduction pathways that control growth and morphological change. An aim is to determine to what extent this transporter-mediated mechanism of nutrient sensing is conserved within the fungal kingdom.

Significant Publications

van den Berg B, Chembath A, Jefferies D, Basle A, Khalid S, Rutherford JC. Structural basis for Mep2 ammonium transceptor activation by phosphorylation. Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 18;7:11337. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11337.

Rutherford JC. The emerging role of urease as a general microbial virulence factor PLoS Pathog. 2014 May 15;10(5):e1004062. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004062.

Dong K, Addinall SG, Lydall D, Rutherford JC. The yeast copper response is regulated by DNA damage. Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Oct;33(20):4041-50. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00116-13


Contact information

Newcastle University
Catherine Cookson Building Framlington Place
Newcastle upon Tyne

Email: julian.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk