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Structural and functional studies of plant transporters involved in nutrient and glycan transport.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 29, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We have several projects that involve investigating the molecular basis of nutrient and glycan transport in plant cells. One project focuses on the proton coupled nitrate transporter, NRT1.1, which is responsible for nitrate transport in root cells. We determined the crystal structure of NRT1.1 and elucidated the mechanism of phosphor-regulation (Parker & Newstead, Nature, 2014). However, several important questions remained unanswered concerning the role of NRT1.1 as a receptor for external nitrate concentration and the mechanism through which the kinase CIPK23 and transcription factors interact to regulate intracellular signalling events. We will a combination of X-ray crystallography, combined with single particle cryo-EM to address these questions.

Our second projectis an iCASE award and involves the mechanism underlying glycan transport in plant cells. We are currently part of the BBSRC funded NIBB, Crossing Biological Membranes Network (CBMNet), and have partnered with several companies in Canada ( who are using plant based recombinant expression systems to manufacture glycan-based antibody therepeutics. We recently determined the crystal structure of the yeast nucleotide sugar transporter, Vrg4 (Parker & Newstead, Nature, 2017) and will follow up this work through the study of plant homologues. Our aim is to evaluate the role of plant nucleotide sugar transporters in regulating the availability of different nucleotide sugar donors to the glycosylation machinary in the ER and Golgi Lumen.
Attributes of suitable applicants: Applicants should have a good understanding of protein biochemistry, preferably some prior experience from summer placements, final year projects etc.

How to apply:
If you are interested in applying for a BBSRC iCASE studentship please contact the named supervisor, Simon Newstead () for further information and to determine whether they would encourage you to apply. Applicants who wish to apply for a BBSRC iCASE studentship should apply directly to the Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP via

Funding Notes

This project is funded for four years by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council BBSRC. BBSRC eligibility criteria apply (View Website Annexe 1). EU nationals who do not meet BBSRC residence criteria are encouraged to contact the programme administrator to check their eligibility for BBSRC funding before submitting a formal application. Successful students will receive a stipend of no less than the standard RCUK stipend rate, currently set at £14,777 per year, which will usually be supplemented by the industrial partner.

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