Professor Peter Kille

Professor Peter Kille

Strategic Director of Education, Bio-Initiatives Director

Email:
kille@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 4507
Fax:
+44 (0)29 2087 4116

Research overview

Heavy metals are essential for life, however, paradoxically exploitation of land for mineral extraction and manufacturing industry results in the release of large quantities of heavy metals that can be toxic to the natural environment. My research portfolio is designed to exploit state-of-the-art genomic, proteomic and metabolomic techniques to study the mechanisms by which biological systems handle heavy metals assessing: their impact as pollutants, their involvement in disease and the basic mechanisms by which they are bound within biological systems.

Nature News: The year of the worm? Published online 16 December 2008 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2008.1309

Division

Organisms and Environment

Classical biochemistry is founded around the description and characterisation of major organic metabolic pathways. Although the role of inorganics is well established, it has not been until recently that parallel intricate trafficking pathways were identified for these essential trace elements. The majority of this fundamental work has been performed on the single cellular brewers yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This knowledge has been translated into the identification of the key genes underlying genetic disorders of metal metabolism in humans, indicating the high degree of conservation of the molecular mechanisms underlying metal metabolism in eukaryotes. My research aims to dissect the function of these pathways within a range of environmental sentinel species.

One common theme within this research has been the involvement of a family of small sulphur rich proteins, namely metallothioneins on metal metabolism (Fig. 1). We have shown that these proteins act as cytosolic metal chaperones, protecting cells from the potential harm posed by 'free' metal ions. We have characterised the role of metallothionein within fish species (>8 original papers), seaweeds, plants and earthworms. For the latter species, over the last 10 years we have progressed from a situation of no knowledge to understanding the complete spectrum of the involvement of metallothioneins involvement in the uptake, sequestration and exclusion of metal ions.

My present research harnesses 'omics' tools to characterise the pathways and regulatory networks which response to and regulate the essential metal ion Zinc and Copper (Fig. 2) and the respond to toxic heavy metals and other Xenobiotics (Fig. 3).

Grants

  • Sampson, J. and Kille, P. (2007) The Wales Gene Park. Welsh Assembly Government, £1,500K.
  • Kille, P. (2006) An integrated approach to understanding soil pollutants' effects on earthworms. Natural Environment Research Council, £1K.
  • Bundy, J., Spurgeon, D. J. and Kille, P. (2006) An integrative approach to understanding soil pollutants' effects on earthworms. (Collaborator(s); Impirial College London, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). Natural Environment Research Council, £48K.
  • Sampson, J. and Kille, P. (2005) The Wales Gene Park. Welsh Assembly Government, £7K.
  • Kille, P. and Dunnett, S. B. (2005) Application of microfluidics to encapsulate cells as functionalised microparticles. Q-Chip Ltd, £20K.
  • Sturzenbaum, S. R., Morgan, A. J. and Kille, P. (2004) Genomics of the springtail O. cincta. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, £3K.
  • Williams, J., Kille, P., Lewis, P. D. and Gray, W. A. (2003) Biostatistics/Bioinformatics unit. Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, £1,499K.
  • Kille, P., Sturzenbaum, S. R., Morgan, A. J., Blaxter, M., Spurgeon, D. J., Kelly, S. and Brophy, P. (2003) Exploiting terrestrial sentinel and model species to integrate tiers of biological response to pollution. (Collaborator(s); Edinburgh University, King's College London, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Aberystwyth University). Natural Environment Research Council, £1,300K.
  • Fox, K. D. and Kille, P. (2003) The role of gene expression in cortical plasticity. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, £255K.
  • Kille, P. and Sturzenbaum, S. R. (2002) Comparative functional analysis of common traits identified by transcript analysis within model and environmental sentinel species. Astra Zeneca, £12K.
  • Kille, P. and Small, G. J. (2002) An introduction to Genomics. Environment Agency, £8K.
  • Kille, P., Sampson, J. and Evans, M. J. (2002) The Wales Gene Park. National Assembly for Wales, Department of Trade & Industry, £2,250K.
  • Kille, P. (2002) Endocrine disruption in aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, £43K.

Collaborations

  • Dr John Morgan , Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University.
  • Professor A. Gray , School of Computer Science, Cardiff University.
  • Professor Kevin Fox , Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University.
  • Dr David Spurgeon , Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, Monks Wood
  • Dr Stephen Sturzenbaum , School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, Kings College London.
  • Professor Christer Hogstrand , School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, Nutritional Sciences, Kings College London.
  • Professor Charles Tyler , School of Biosciences, Exeter University
  • Professor Mark Blaxter , Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Jake Bundy , Division of Surgery, Imperial College London.
  • Dr Alex Ford , Environmental Research Institute, University of the Highlands and the Islands.
  • Professor Martin Stillman, Department of Chemistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.
  • Q-Chip Life Sciences , Cardiff MediCentre, Heath Park, Cardiff.
  • Professor S. Woodhead , Invitron Limited, Monmouth.
  • Dr B. Brown , Brixham Environmental Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Brixham.

Affiliated staff

  • Mrs V. Workman (Cellular Microencapsulation)
  • Mrs E. Pervolaraki (Neural Plasticity)
  • Mrs J. Andre (Pd tolerance in earthworms)
  • Mrs C. Sambles (Transcriptomic analysis of Gammarid populations)
  • Mrs D. Welter (Bioinformatics)
  • Mr B. Al-Daihani (Bioinformatics)
  • Mr Satish Periyasamy (Bioinformatics)

Academic Schools