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Dr Alan Shirras

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research overview

My research is aimed at gaining a greater insight into the synthesis, metabolism and function of bioactive peptides, which are important signalling and regulatory molecules, controlling many aspects of development, physiology and behaviour.

My particular focus is on the role of angiotensin-converting enzyme-like peptidases, using Drosophila as a model.

Current Research

The role of diet and insulin-like signalling in age-related senescence in Drosophila melanogaster - with Dr Susan Broughton and Dr Sandra Sunram-Lea (Psychology). Mohd Zamri Bin Haji Ismail, PhD student.

The role of Angiotensin converting-enzyme-related (Acer) in modulating diet-dependent processes in Drosophila melanogaster - with Dr Susan Broughton.  Zoe Glover, PhD student.

Research Interests

Mammalian angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) is a zinc metallopeptidase that cleaves dipeptides from the C-terminus of oligopeptides and is best known for its pivotal role in blood homeostasis, as part of the Renin-Angiotensin and Kinin-Kininogen systems.

ACE activity is also found in invertebrates from several phyla, including all insect species studied so far. Since invertebrates do not possess peptide hormones structurally related to angiotensin, bradykinin and N-acetylSDKP, understanding the physiological roles of these invertebrate ACEs is likely to reveal novel functions of ACE-like peptidases in biological processes. Two Drosophila homologues of human ACE  (ANCE and ACER) have been the subject of genetic and biochemical studies in our labs.


Current Teaching

BIOL113 Genetics

BIOL114 Biotechnology

BIOL124 Hormones and Development

BIOL211 Cell Biology

BIOL312 Medical Genetics

Director of Undergraduate Teaching for the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences

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