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Deciphering the mechanisms underpinning prophage induction and virulence gene expression during infection by the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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Dr N Lynskey , Prof D Gally No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Edinburgh United Kingdom Microbiology Molecular Biology

About the Project

The human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes is globally the 9th most common cause of death by infection. It is capable of causing a vast array of diseases due to the arsenal of virulence factors it can produce, many of which are targeted towards evasion of the host immune response. Vaccines and more effective treatment stragtegies are urgently needed for this potentially lethal pathogen.

The bacteria-invading viruses (bacteriophages) are integral to the transfer of virulence factors between different S. pyogenes isolates and can provide a selective advantage to the recipient bacterial strain. The introduction of new factors into the streptococcal population by bacteriophages have underpinned major upsurges in disease and are common place in the population. However, we know very little about the biology of such important phages and how they can contol the expression of the associated virulence genes.

This PhD is a collaborative project between the labs of Dr Nicola Lynskey and Prof David Gally at the University of Edinburgh and Dr Claire Turner at the University of Sheffield. Using cutting-edge techniques we aim to determine the mechanism by which specific genes within virulence associated prophages in clinical S. pyogenes are regulated, and how interaction with host cells both alters prophage motility and virulence factor production and ultimately how this enhances S. pyogenes evasion of the host immune response.

This 3.5 year PhD project will be based in the Lynskey Lab at the Roslin Institute, Univeristy of Edinburgh, and in the Turner lab, University of Sheffield. The student will benefit from the world-class biomedical research facilities and access to expertise in modelling of both human and veterinary infections. For informal enquires please contact Dr Nicola Lynskey at [Email Address Removed] or Dr Claire Turner at [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

3.5 year PhD

This opportunity is open to UK and international students and provides funding to cover stipend, tuition fees and consumable/travel costs. Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].

When applying for the studentship please state clearly the project title/s and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.

Other projects available:
We would encourage applicants to list up to three projects of interest (ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice) from those listed with a closing date of 10th January 2021 at


Remmington et al. 2020 Cryptic prophages within a Streptococcus pyogenes genotype emm4 lineage. mGen
Al-Shahib et al. 2016 Emergence of a novel lineage containing a prophage in emm/M3 group A Streptococcus associated with upsurge in invasive disease in the UK mGen
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