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Identification of novel accessory Sec components in bacteria using high-throughput methods

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr D Huber  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Every compartment of a cell contains proteins, and yet all of these proteins are initially synthesised inside the cell in the cytoplasm. Proteins that do not normally reside inside the cytoplasmic compartment must be transported across one or several membranes in order to be localised to the correct compartment. In most cases, the first step in their correct localisation is transported across the cytoplasmic membrane by evolutionarily conserved Sec machinery. The core Sec machinery has been extensively investigated in the model organism Escherichia coli. Proteins are transported through a channel in the cytoplasmic membrane (SecYEG). Transport through SecYEG is powered by an ATPase (SecA), and a number of additional components, including SecDF, YidC, YajC and SecB, assist protein transport. However, recent work by our group suggests that there is a much larger network of proteins that assists the Sec machinery, which we have termed Accessory Sec Components (or ASCs). ASCs are less well conserved than the core machinery, suggesting that they may be required for adaptation to specific ecological niches. However, understanding how ASCs function would provide critical insight in the mechanism of the Sec machinery. The goal of this project is to identify potential ASCs in E. coli and investigate their function. To this end, the student will use high-throughput genetic screening methods and cutting-edge methodologies in molecular genetics and biochemistry.

Funding Notes

Preference will be given for a candidate applying for the Midlands Integratrated training partnership (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/mibtp/index.aspx). However, all interested students are encouraged to apply year-round. Additional sources of funding at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgfunding.


Cranford Smith T, Wynne M, Carter C, Jiang C, Jamshad M, Milner MT, Djouider Y, Hutchinson E, Lund PA, Henderson I, Huber D. (2020) AscA (YecA) is a molecular chaperone involved in Sec-dependent protein translocation in Escherichia coli. BioRxiv 215244.

Cranford-Smith T, Jamshad M, Jeeves M, Chandler RA, Yule J, Robinson A, Alam F, Dunne KA, Aponte Angarita EH, Alanazi M, Carter C, Henderson IR, Lovett JE, Winn P, Knowles T, Huber D. (2020) Iron is a ligand of SecA-like metal-binding domains in vivo. J Biol Chem. 295:7516-7528.

Cranford Smith T and Huber D. (2018) The way is the goal: how SecA transports proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane in bacteria. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 365, doi: 10.1093/femsle/fny093

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