Kamel El Omari

Beamline Scientist at Diamond Light Source; Lecturer in Biochemistry

I am Somerville’s Lecturer in Biochemistry.

I am a virologist and crystallographer based at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchotron. The aim of my research is to shed light on proteins interactions occurring between viruses and their host cells. Viruses use host cell resources to carry through their life cycle, but infection triggers host cell antiviral defense mechanisms that in turn drive viral adaptation. Thus it is crucial to understand not only the biology of the virus but also the biology of the host and the different cell pathways hijacked by the virus. This project will initially focus on unravelling the mechanism of viral membrane fusion.

Another research focus is the single-wavelength anomalous dispersion of S atoms (S-SAD), an elegant phasing method to determine crystal structures that does not require heavy-atom incorporation or selenomethionine derivatization. Nevertheless, this technique has been limited by the paucity of the signal at the usual X-ray wavelengths, requiring very accurate measurement of the anomalous differences. The I23 beam line at the Diamond light source has been designed to provide an optimized environment for difficult S-SAD experiments, by increasing the anomalous signal with minimal noise.


El Omari K, Li S, Kotecha A, Walter TS, Bignon EA, Harlos K, Somerharju P, De Haas F, Clare DK, Molin M, Hurtado F, Li M, Grimes JM, Bamford DH, Tischler ND, Huiskonen JT, Stuart DI, Roine E. The structure of a prokaryotic viral envelope protein expands the landscape of membrane fusion proteins. Nat Commun. (2019)

Langan PS, Vandavasi VG, Weiss KL, Afonine PV, El Omari K, Duman R, Wagner A, Coates L. Anomalous X-ray diffraction studies of ion transport in K+ channels. Nat Commun. (2018)

Pryce R, Ng WM, Zeltina A, Watanabe Y, El Omari K, Wagner A, Bowden TA. Structure-Based Classification Defines the Discrete Conformational Classes Adopted by the Arenaviral GP1. J Virol. (2018)

Austin HP, Allen MD, Donohoe BS, Rorrer NA, Kearns FL, Silveira RL, Pollard BC, Dominick G, Duman R, El Omari K, Mykhaylyk V, Wagner A, Michener WE, Amore A, Skaf MS, Crowley MF, Thorne AW, Johnson CW, Woodcock HL, McGeehan JE, Beckham GT. Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase. Proc Natl Acad Sci (2018)

Esposito D, Günster RA, Martino L, El Omari K, Wagner A, Thurston TLM, Rittinger K. Structural basis for the glycosyltransferase activity of the Salmonella effector SseK3. J Biol Chem. (2018)

Bountra K, Hagelueken G, Choudhury HG, Corradi V, El Omari K, Wagner A, Mathavan I, Zirah S, Yuan Wahlgren W, Tieleman DP, Schiemann O, Rebuffat S, Beis K. Structural basis for antibacterial peptide self-immunity by the bacterial ABC transporter McjD. EMBO J (2017)

Zhaoyang Sun, Kamel El Omari, Xiaoyu Sun, Serban L Ilca, Abhay Kotecha, David I Stuart, Minna M Poranen, Juha T Huiskonen. Double-stranded RNA virus outer shell assembly by bona fide domain-swapping. Nature Communications (2017).

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