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Computer simulations and fluorescence spectroscopy to study the dynamics of the plant protein Light Harvesting Complex II

Project Description

This project will provide insight into the biophysical basis of protein dynamics which are crucial for life but are poorly understood. The plant protein Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) is essential for photosynthesis, yet our understanding of how it switches between conformations is incomplete. LHCII proteins undergo dynamic structural changes which alter its capacity for light harvesting and changes its interactions with other proteins. In future, this knowledge could be exploited to design novel solar nanotechnologies.

Molecular simulations and modelling will be used to examine the function of LHCII under biologically-relevant scenarios. The computational results will be correlated with experimental fluorescence spectroscopy studies to test these predictions. The student will:
(1) determine the effect of LHCII-LHCII interactions on its conformational switching.
(2) study how LHCII interacts with other proteins cofactors proposed to modulate its action.
(3) quantify the effect of lipid composition on the protein stability and protein-protein interactions.

The student will be part of a team with well-established tools in computer simulations of membrane proteins and for assessing model membranes by simple fluorescence studies. This interdisciplinary approach will interrogate the single molecule dynamics which are known to modulate the state of LHCII underlying its critical function of capturing solar energy.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2020:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference and research funding

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.

EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency to receive full studentship

Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

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1. Hancock, AM; Meredith, SA; Connell, SDA; Jeuken, LJC; Adams, PG (2019) Proteoliposomes as energy transferring nanomaterials: enhancing the spectral range of light-harvesting proteins using lipid-linked chromophores. Nanoscale 11, 16284-16292.

2. Adams PG; Vasilev C; Neil Hunter C; Johnson MP (2018) Correlated fluorescence quenching and topographic mapping of Light-Harvesting Complex II within surface-assembled aggregates and lipid bilayers. BBA Bioenergetics 1859, 1075-1085.

3. DD Vecchis, R.A.F. Reithmeier and Kalli, A.C. 2019. Molecular simulations of intact Anion Exchanger 1 reveal specific domain and lipid interactions. Biophys J. 117, 1364-1379.

4. Kalli, A.C., and R.A.F. Reithmeier. 2018. Interaction of the human erythrocyte Band 3 anion exchanger 1 (AE1, SLC4A1) with lipids and glycophorin A: Molecular organization of the Wright (Wr) blood group antigen. PLoS Comput. Biol. 14: e1006284.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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