University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes
Birkbeck, University of London Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Birkbeck, University of London Featured PhD Programmes
University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes

Find your match: investigating the biophysics and the evolution of protein-DNA interaction specificity (LEJ20DTP)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

In living organisms, hundreds of DNA-binding proteins carry out a plethora of roles in homeostasis, transcriptional regulation in response to stress, and in maintenance and transmission of genetic information. These DNA-binding proteins do so faithfully due to their distinct DNA-binding specificity towards their cognate DNA sites. Yet it remains unclear how related proteins, sometimes with a very similar DNA-recognition motif, can recognize entirely different DNA sites. What were the changes at the molecular level that brought about the diversification in DNA-binding specificity? As proteins evolved, did their intermediates in this process drastically switch DNA-binding specificity or did they transit gradually through promiscuous states that recognized multiple DNA sequences?

To answer these questions, the PhD student will employ a pair of evolutionarily related DNA-binding proteins each with a different DNA preference as model systems. By combining systematic mutational scanning, X-ray crystallography, and biophysical techniques, the student will understand biophysical requirements and constraints to evolve a new protein-DNA interface.

The methodologies and concepts that the student develops will be applicable to studying the biophysics and evolutions of other DNA-binding protein families, and to engineer novel protein-DNA complex for synthetic biology applications.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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