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Exploiting genetically encoded unnatural amino acids to develop novel proteins (SACHDEVAU16SCI)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Sachdeva
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Proteins are polymers made up of 20 naturally occurring amino acids that from the basis for most life forms on our planet. However, naturally occurring amino acids lack numerous chemical functional groups, such as aldehydes, ketones, alkenes and alkynes. Introducing such functional groups into the genetic code can lead to development of proteins with novel functions for applications in biochemistry, biotechnology, medicine and biofuels. Recently, methods have been developed to generate proteins containing multiple unnatural amino acids in live cells to address important biological questions (ref. 1-5). Despite their potential in widespread applications, the use of unnatural amino acids to create new biomolecules is largely unexplored. The aim of this project is to develop such biomolecules.

The successful applicant will be a talented biochemist or chemist with enthusiasm for chemistry, chemical biology, and molecular biology. They will work at the forefront of chemical and synthetic biology and will develop advanced skills in chemical synthesis, various molecular biology and analytical techniques, including molecular cloning, protein expression and purification, gel electrophoresis, western blotting, and HPLC. The research work will be performed in the Chemical and Synthetic Biology laboratories housed in the School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia under the supervision of Dr Amit Sachdeva.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


1. A. Sachdeva, K. Wang, T.S. Elliott and J.W. Chin. (2014) Concerted, rapid, quantitative and site-specific dual labeling of protein. Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), 136, 7785.
2. K. Wang*, A. Sachdeva*, D.J. Cox, N.W. Wilf, K. Lang, S. Wallace R.A. Mehl and J.W. Chin. (2014) Optimized orthogonal translation of unnatural amino acids enables spontaneous protein double labelling and FRET. Nature Chemistry, 6, 393. (*=Co-first authors)
3. T.S. Elliott, F.M. Townsley, A. Bianco, R.J. Ernst, A. Sachdeva, S.J. Elsässer, L. Davis, K. Lang, R. Pisa, S. Greiss, Kathryn S. Lilley and J.W. Chin. (2014) Proteome Labeling and Protein Identification in Specific Tissues and at Specific Development Stages in an Animal. Nature Biotechnology, 32, 465.
4. D.T. Rogerson, A. Sachdeva, K. Wang, T. Haq, A. Kazlauskaite, S.M. Hancock, N. Huguenin-Dezot, M.M.K. Muqit, A.M. Fry, R. Bayliss and and J.W. Chin. (2015) Efficient genetic encoding of phosphoserine and its non-hydrolyzable analog. Nature Chemical Biology, in press.

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