Ian Chambers collects FEBS Letters Award on behalf of team

06 September 2022

Image of Professor Ian Chambers receiving an award
Editor in Chief of FEBS Letters Michael Brunner presents award to Professor Ian Chambers. Credit: IUBMB FEBS PABMB Congress 2022

CRM Associate Director and Group Leader Professor Ian Chambers has collected the FEBS Letters Award 2022 on behalf of his team at the annual Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) congress.

Professor Chambers presented a plenary lecture about this work at the 46th FEBS Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, 9-14 July 2022, where he officially accepted the prize on behalf of himself and Dr Mullin.

The award-winning article 'Phosphorylation of NANOG by casein kinase I regulates embryonic stem cell renewal' was selected by a special committee, formed by appointed members of the FEBS Letters Editorial Board, plus one external member. The Award Committee was chaired by Michael Brunner, Editor in Chief of FEBS Letters.

Novel findings

In the paper, the authors report a new mechanism by which NANOG regulates embryonic stem cell self-renewal in mice. NANOG is a transcriptional regulator, which means it binds DNA and switches on and off genes that are important in stem cell self-renewal. Self-renewal, a defining feature of stem cells, is when stem cells divide to make more stem cells to expand the population.

Mullin and colleagues found that the enzyme casein kinase I phosphorylates NANOG and that this enhances self-renewal.

The discovery was made by molecular mapping sites of casein kinase I phosphorylation on NANOG and focussing on novel phosphorylation sites in the DNA binding domain of NANOG.  The team mimicked phosphorylation by genetically engineering a negatively charged amino acid at the phosphorylation site and this mutant NANOG protein enhanced embryonic stem cell self-renewal.

Nanog is named after Tir nan Og the legendary “Land of the Ever-Young”. Prof Chambers and colleagues chose the name as the gene effectively makes stem cells immortal. 

These novel findings indicate how phosphorylation may influence interactions with the NANOG DNA binding domain that underpin embryonic stem cell self-renewal.

For our work to be recognised by FEBS letters is a great accolade and we are delighted to receive the award.

Dr Nick Mullin

This was a fun collaborative effort. It will be exciting to find out what partner proteins bind to phosphorylated NANOG to mediate enhanced self-renewal.

Professor Ian Chambers (who led the team)


FEBS Letters is a not-for-profit society journal for the rapid publication of research reports that “significantly impact and advance knowledge in the molecular life sciences”.

Find out more


 Explore the Chambers Lab

 Read more about the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) Press Awards 

 Discover more about the award winning paper in FEBS Letters