Dr Mairi Kilkenny

Subject: Natural Sciences
Our research focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of human DNA replication, using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes gene cloning, recombinant protein expression, cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, and myriad biophysical techniques. We are currently engaged in an artificial intelligence-led virtual drug screening approach, with the aim of developing novel anti-cancer therapeutics. In addition, we are actively pursuing Covid19-based research into the potential link between human replication proteins, inflammation and the anti-viral response.
Director of Studies in Biochemistry; Tutor; Supervisor
Assistant Director of Teaching and Senior Research Associate, Department of Biochemistry

A classic case of Chemist-turned-Biochemist, I carried out my undergraduate and Masters (Chemistry) degrees at the University of Cape Town, before moving to Cambridge for my PhD (Biochemistry) in 2001. In 2005 I embarked on my research career at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, before moving back to Cambridge in 2010 to take up a position as Senior Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry. In addition to my research, I supervise undergraduate, Masters and PhD students, and I love any kind of STEM outreach activity. I participate in the annual Cambridge Science Festival, as well as various school-based Science Fun Days. 

  • Risa GT, Hurtig F, Bray S, Hafner AE, Harker-Kirchneck L, Faull P, Davis C, Papatziamou D, Mutavchiev DR, Fan C, Meneguello L, Pulschen AA, Dey G, Culley S, Kilkenny ML, Souza DP, Pellegrini L, de Bruin RAM, Henriques R, Snijders AP, Saric A, Lindas AC, Robinson N, Baum B, The proteasome controls ESCRT-III-mediated cell division in an archaeon, Science, 2020, 369, eaaz2532.
  • Lerner LK, Holzer S, Kilkenny ML, Svikovic S, Murat P, Schiavone D, Eldridge CB, Bittleston A, Maman JD, Branzei D, Stott K, Pellegrini L, Sale JE, Timeless couples G-quadruplex detection with processing by DDX11 helicase during DNA replication, EMBO J, 2020, e104185.
  • Holzer S, Rzechorzek NJ, Jenkyn Bedford M, Pellegrini L, Kilkenny ML, Structural basis for inhibition of human primase by arabinofuranosyl nucleotide analogues fludarabine and vidarabine, ACS Chemical Biology, 2019, 14, 9, 1904-1912.Kilkenny ML, Simon AC, Mainwaring J, Wirthenson D, Holzer S, Pellegrini L, The human CTF4-orthologue AND-1 interacts with the DNA polymerase α/primase via its unique C-terminal HMG box, Open Biology, 2017, 7(11), 170217.
  • Kolinjivadi AM, Sannino V, De Antoni A, Zadorozhny K, Kilkenny ML, Techer H, Baldi G, Shen R, Ciccia A, Pellegrini L, Krejci L, Costanzo V, Smarcal1-Mediated Fork Reversal Triggers Mre11-Dependent Degradation of Nascent DNA in the Absence of Brca2 and Stable Rad51 Nucleofilaments, Molecular Cell, 2017, 67, 1-15.
  • Holzer S, Degliesposti G, Kilkenny ML, Maslen SL, Matak-Vinkovíc D, Skehel M, Pellegrini L, Crystal structure of the N-terminal domain of human Timeless and its interaction with Tipin, Nucleic Acids Research, 2017, 45(9), 5555-5563.
  • Villa F, Simon AC, Ortiz Bazan MA, Kilkenny ML, Wirthensohn D, Wightman M, Matak-Vinkovíc D, Pellegrini L, Labib K, Ctf4 Is a Hub in the Eukaryotic Replisome that Links Multiple CIP-Box Proteins to the CMG Helicase, Molecular Cell, 2016, 63, 1-12.
  • Anjum RS, Bray SM, Blackwood JK, Kilkenny ML, Coelho MA, Foster BM, Li S, Howard JA2, Pellegrini L, Albers SV, Deery MJ, Robinson NP,  Involvement of a eukaryotic-like ubiquitin-related modifier in the proteasome pathway of the archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, Nature Communications, 2015, 6: 8163.
  • Simon AC, Zhou JC, Perera RL, van Deursen F, Evrin C, Ivanova ME, Kilkenny ML, Renault L, Kjaer S, Matak-Vinković D, Labib K, Costa A, Pellegrini L, A Ctf4 trimer couples the CMG helicase to DNA polymerase α in the eukaryotic replisome, Nature, 2014, 510 (7504), 293-7.
Shortlisted in the Innovative Teacher category in the 2020 CUSU Student-led Teaching Awards.Commended as an Undergraduate Supervisor (Science and Technology) in the 2018 CUSU Student-led Teaching Awards