Prof Tony Maxwell

Project Leader
Biological Chemistry

Our lab investigates the structure and mechanism of DNA topoisomerases and associated proteins, in order to further our understanding of key biological processes in which they are involved, and to harness this knowledge for the development of therapeutic agents, specifically antibiotics.

Topoisomerases are vitally important enzymes involved in the control of the topological state of DNA.  Their major biological functions are in DNA replication, transcription and the control of gene expression.  Topoisomerases provide fascinating systems for studying DNA-protein interactions and energy coupling in biological systems.  Their study also has clinical relevance from the standpoint of antibacterial and anti-tumour drugs.  DNA gyrase, the enzyme from bacteria that carries out DNA supercoiling, is the target for clinically-important antibiotics.  In addition to gyrase, we are working on a number of related enzymes, including bacterial topoisomerase IV and the recently discovered gyrases and topo VI enzymes from plants and plasmodial species.  The work involves a wide range of methodologies including bacteriology, mutagenesis, protein engineering, plant molecular biology, enzymology, biophysical methods and X-ray crystallography.

We are also working on insect gut bacteria as a way of exploring plant toxins to assess their usefulness as potential antibiotics. This involves analysing the microbiome of insects feeding on certain plants to obtain evidence of toxin compounds in the plant.


Tel: 01603 450771

New target found in search for new, more effective herbicide

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New target found in search for new, more effective herbicide

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Professor Tony Maxwell awarded a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award

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€85 million for new way to carry out antibiotic drug discovery

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Recent Publications

Nagaraja V., Godbole A. A., Henderson S. R., Maxwell A. (2016)

DNA topoisomerase I and DNA gyrase as targets for TB therapy.

Djaout K., Singh V., Boum Y., Katawera V., Becker H. F., Bush N. G., Hearnshaw S. J., Pritchard J. E., Bourbon P., Madrid P. B., Maxwell A., Mizrahi V., Myllykallio H., Ekins S. (2016)

Predictive modeling targets thymidylate synthase ThyX in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Scientific reports 6 p27792

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/srep27792

Austin M. J., Hearnshaw S. J., Mitchenall L. A., McDermott P. J., Howell L. A., Maxwell A., Searcey M. (2016)

A natural product inspired fragment-based approach towards the development of novel antibacterial agents

Medicinal Chemistry Communications 7 p1387-1391

Publisher’s version: 10.1039/c6md00229c

Evans-Roberts K. M., Mitchenall L. A., Wall M. K., Leroux J., Mylne J. S., Maxwell A. (2016)

DNA Gyrase Is the Target for the Quinolone Drug Ciprofloxacin in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Journal of Biological Chemistry 291 p3136-44

Publisher’s version: 10.1074/jbc.M115.689554

Sipos A., Pató J., Székely R., Hartkoorn R. C., Kékesi L., Orfi L., Szántai-Kis C., Mikuová K., Svetlíková Z., Korduláková J., Nagaraja V., Godbole A. A., Bush N., Collin F., Maxwell A., Cole S. T., Kéri G. (2015)

Lead selection and characterization of antitubercular compounds using the Nested Chemical Library.

Tuberculosis 95 Suppl 1 pS200-6

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/

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Tony Maxwell

  • Lesley Mitchenall Research Assistant
  • Dr Thomas Germe Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Monica Agarwal Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Judit Voros Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Ben Bax Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Natassja Bush Postgraduate Student
  • Sara Henderson Postgraduate Student
  • Shannon McKie Postgraduate Student
  • Nidda Waraich Postgraduate Student


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