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Characterisation of bacterial effectors delivered by the type VI secretion system

Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease

About the Project

Many pathogenic bacteria secrete protein ’effectors’ that benefit the pathogen by allowing it to subvert, damage or kill the host. Gram-negative bacteria possess a syringe-like nanomachine known as the type VI secretion system (T6SS) that injects effectors directly into target cells. In some pathogenic bacteria the T6SS plays a crucial role in the virulence of the bacterium by injecting effectors directly into host cells. However, uniquely, the T6SS can also inject lethal effectors into other bacteria and it therefore also plays a major role in interspecies bacterial competition. For this reason, the T6SS offers potential for development as a therapeutic agent that can be used to kill pathogenic bacteria during an infection.

The project seeks to investigate the T6SSs present in pathogenic members of the genus Burkholderia. These bacteria include opportunistic human pathogens and plant pathogens. One aim of this project is to obtain more information regarding the nature of the effector proteins secreted by the Burkholderia T6SSs and their mechanism of action. The other aim is to elucidate the mechanism by which they are ‘mounted’ on the T6SS so that they are injected into target cells. This project will involve a range of genetic and molecular biological approaches and may include protein structure determination

Funding Notes

Open to Home/EU and Overseas students that have secured funding for their studies.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or equivalent.


Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Mark Thomas ([email protected])

How to apply:
Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here:

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select 'Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease' as the department.

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