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Cooperative, non-specific binding and aggregation in protein/RNAinteractions: Beyond stoichiometry, specificity, and discrete binding sites

Project Description

Interactions between biomolecules are typically considered to be both
specific and stoichiometric. Even in cases of multiple binding sites,
cooperative binding models have been successful in reproducing the
sigmoidal binding curves seen in experiment (e.g., hemoglobin). However,
many important binding phenomena (e.g. specific but sequence-independent
interactions between proteins and biological polymers) are not well described
by classical cooperative binding models. This failure becomes prominent
when the binding site is not localized but spread over a wider surface of the
biomolecules, such the surface of a double-stranded nucleic acid. Such
interactions are beyond the scope of classical binding models.

A new language is therefore necessary to describe such weak, non-specific
binding. Our strategy is to combine theory and experiments. For theory we
appeal to the fundamental principles of statistical thermodynamics that are
used to rationalize solvation phenomena in solution chemistry and
formulation science. We will exploit structural, thermodynamic and
hydrodynamic approaches to provide an experimental description of binding.
Supervised by experts in theory and experiment, the project aims to establish
a molecular-based approach to describe weak, non-specific interactions
between proteins, and proteins and nucleic acids, and to furnish a novel
method to extract such information from experimental data.

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for four years and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.


Entry requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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