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De novo design of a new generation of catalysts based on rhodium coiled coils

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD project will generate a new class of miniature metalloenzymes based on rhodium coiled coils, which bring together the power of enzymatic catalysis, as provided by the coiled coil miniature protein-type scaffold, and small molecule rhodium catalysis. The design of artificial miniature metalloenzymes which offer the advantages of water compatible chemistry, high enantioselectivity and substrate selectivity, whilst retaining a more robust ligand scaffold than traditional proteins, and access to the chemical diversity offered by rhodium catalysis, provides an exciting opportunity to advance catalyst design.

This project will focus on the de novo design of a library of miniature protein architectures, primarily based on the coiled coil scaffold, for rhodium coordination (see Figure). These will be prepared by automated peptide synthesis, and the coordination of rhodium studied using a range of spectroscopic techniques (including but not limited to, circular dichroism, UV-visible, NMR spectroscopy, ICP-MS, AUC and mass spectrometry). Resulting complexes will be evaluated for catalysis, and key structure-function relationships established. Through a cyclic process of redesign, second and even third generation rhodium coiled coils will be generated, with improved performance.

Candidates will be provided with training in the above techniques, though a background in Chemistry is strongly preferred.

Funding Notes

Competitive students would be eligible for a a studentship which covers fees and a monthly stipend consistent with RCUK rates.


[1] Berwick, M. R.; Lewis, D. J.; Pikramenou, Z.; Jones, A. W.; Cooper, H. J.; Wilkie, J.; Britton, M. M.; Peacock, A. F. A. “De Novo Design of Ln(III) Coiled Coils for Imaging Applications” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 1166.
[2] Berwick, M. R.; Slope, L. N.; Smith, C.; King, S. M.; Newton, S. L.; Gillis, R; Adams, G.; Rowe, A.; Harding, S.; Britton, M. M.; Peacock, A. F. A. “ Location dependent coordination chemistry and MRI relaxivity, in de novo designed lanthanide coiled coils” Chem. Sci., 2016, 7, 2207.
[3] Zastrow, M.; Peacock, A. F. A.; Stuckey, J.; Pecoraro, V. L. “Hydrolytic Catalysis and Structural Stabilization in a Designed Metalloprotein” Nature Chem., 2012, 4, 118.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.00

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

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