About the Project
All gram negative bacteria have an outer membrane (OM) that is packed with OM proteins (OMPs) that are vital for bacterial survival. A complex assembly line has evolved to shuttle OMPs from their site of synthesis in the cytoplasm to the OM. This assembly line comprises chaperones in the periplasm (Skp and SurA) that escort OMPs to the OM, and the membrane-embedded BAM (beta-barrel assembly machinery), which inserts them into the OM. Efficient OMP synthesis is essential for bacterial viability, and therefore targeting this pathway with new drug-like molecules is an emerging strategy to treat infections by gram negative pathogens. However, the molecular details of this pathway, and how all the components of the assembly line function together remains poorly understood, hampering drug discovery efforts.
In this project, you will receive training in state-of-the-art proteomics and structural mass spectrometry methods and use these tools, combined with a suite of biochemical and bacterial growth assays to understand the molecular details of how the OMP biogenesis pathway coordinates OMP assembly. These approaches will also be used to reveal the molecular mechanism by which drug-like molecules target this process. This will aid in the design of much-needed new antibiotics against gram negative bacteria that cause disease to humans, plants and animals.
You will be based in the laboratories of Dr Antonio Calabrese (https://www.calabreselab.com/, https://twitter.com/anton_calabrese) and Prof Sheena Radford (http://sheena-radford-lab.uk/, https://twitter.com/RadfordLab), and join a team of researchers working to uncover the molecular mechanism of OMP biogenesis.
Benefits of being in the DiMeN DTP:
This project is part of the Discovery Medicine North Doctoral Training Partnership (DiMeN DTP), a diverse community of PhD students across the North of England researching the major health problems facing the world today. Our partner institutions (Universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield) are internationally recognised as centres of research excellence and can offer you access to state-of the-art facilities to deliver high impact research.
We are very proud of our student-centred ethos and committed to supporting you throughout your PhD. As part of the DTP, we offer bespoke training in key skills sought after in early career researchers, as well as opportunities to broaden your career horizons in a range of non-academic sectors.
Being funded by the MRC means you can access additional funding for research placements, international training opportunities or internships in science policy, science communication and beyond. See how our current DiMeN students have benefited from this funding here: http://www.dimen.org.uk/overview/student-profiles/flexible-supplement-awards
Further information on the programme and how to apply can be found on our website:
Studentships commence: 1st October 2021
B. Schiffrin, A. N. Calabrese, P. W. A. Devine, S. A. Harris, A. E. Ashcroft, D. J. Brockwell, S. E. Radford, Skp is a multivalent chaperone of outer-membrane proteins. Nat Struct Mol Biol 23, 786–793 (2016).
J. E. Horne, M. Walko, A. N. Calabrese, M. A. Levenstein, D. J. Brockwell, N. Kapur, A. J. Wilson, S. E. Radford, Rapid Mapping of Protein Interactions Using Tag‐Transfer Photocrosslinkers, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 57, 16688 (2018).
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