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Cryo-electron microscopy of nucleic acid processing machines from bacterial and human viruses


Project Description

Viruses are the most common biological entities on our planet, infecting all living things. In humans, viral infections like herpes and poliovirus cause illnesses, particularly in the elderly, babies or people with lowered immune defense. Many viruses can cause life-long infections as they are impossible to eradicate using current treatments. This can lead to serious health problems including cancer. Viruses can only replicate in cells and use dedicated capsules to protect their genes while passing to another host. During infection, new copies of the virus’ genes are made and loaded into capsules to make new virus particles that then spread to other cells. The virus employs highly specialised molecular machines to copy its genes and to load them into the capsules.

This project will employ cutting-edge cryo-Electron Microscopy, to image the machines and watch them work. The research will provide detailed information about what the machines look like and how they function. This will inform the development of new treatments that can prevent or reduce virus infections.

Specifically, the project will ask what is the structure and mechanism of genome packaging motors of dsDNA viruses, such as herpes or poxviruses? What is the role of each component of the DNA-translocating motor, and what are the molecular interactions between individual protein components and DNA? How is ATP hydrolysis coupled to mechanical movement during DNA translocation?
The project will benefit from the expertise in Antson lab where protocols have already been established for assembling molecular machines in vitro, and from the experience in Blaza lab on collecting cryo-EM data and obtaining high-resolution 3D reconstruction.
The project is suitable for students who have strong interest in the cryo-EM technique, virology and in nucleic acid machines&mechanisms. Applicants will be expected to have a background in biochemistry and/or biophysics.

This prestigious BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) brings together the very best molecular, chemical and cellular bioscience research across the White Rose Consortium of Universities (Leeds, Sheffield and York), which maps on to the research themes of the BBSRC. Students will benefit from a regional PhD training programme that has interdisciplinary collaboration at its core. The aim is to enable students to develop a range of research skills in biological and biochemical areas as well as equip them with core mathematical, data analysis and generic professional skills that are necessary for bioscience research in the coming decades. At York, the White Rose Partnership brings together researchers from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry. https://www.york.ac.uk/biology/postgraduate/dtpbbsrc/

Additionally, all Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/postgraduate/idtc/

Panel interviews will take place at the University of York on 6 February 2019.

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/ed/

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2019. Induction activities will start on 30 September.

Funding Notes

Value: Studentships are fully funded by BBSRC and cover: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,777 for 2018-2019, to be confirmed for 2019-2020 but typically increases annually in line with inflation), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.
Eligibility: The studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. Further information about eligibility for Research Council UK funding can be found at the following website: View Website

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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