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Biochemical elucidation of the novel ECP bacterial stress response

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  • Full or part time
    Dr N Dixon
    Prof R Breitling
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD project will focus on the detailed elucidation of the biochemical mechanism of a recently discovered gene regulatory network in bacteria. In a previous study we demonstrated that under conditions of both osmotic and translation stress E. coli cells undergo an excretion cytoplasmic proteins (ECP) phenomenon, whereby abundant cellular components are expelled into the extracellular environment [1]. The motivation of this current study is that understanding bacterial stress responses has important implications for bacterial physiology, host-pathogen interactions, and for the biotechnological application of using bacterial cells as bio-production hosts.

Our recent findings indicate that ECP is dependent upon the large mechanosensitive channel (MscL) and is positively regulated in response to both osmotic and Alternative ribosome-rescue factor A (ArfA) mediated response to translational stress. However, detailed mechanistic analysis is required to dissect how this gene regulatory network may regulate the MscL-dependent excretion in response to osmotic and translation stress. Elucidation of the mechanism has important implication for basic microbiology, understanding post-transcriptional gene expression control, and as is likely to lead to important fundamental research findings and high impact papers.

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Chemical Biology, Biotechnology or related areas. A Masters degree or other research experience in a relevant subject is also desirable.

Contact for further Information:
Neil Dixon
[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTG funded studentship covering all fees and stipend (£15,009 in September 2019). Open to UK/EU applicants only.

The start date for this PhD prgramme will be September 2019.

Please select PhD Biological Chemistry in the online application form.


1.Morra, R., Del Carratore, F., Muhamadali, H., Horga, L., Halliwell, S., Goodacre, R., Breitling, R. & Dixon, N. Translation Stress Positively Regulates MscL-Dependent Excretion of Cytoplasmic Proteins mBio (2018),

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