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Structural biology of nucleic acid processing machines from human and bacterial viruses

Project Description

Viruses are the most common biological entities on our planet, infecting all living things. In humans, viral infections like herpes and poliovirus cause serious illnesses but, because they are impossible to eradicate using current treatments, they can also persist indefinitely. This persistence can lead to serious health problems including cancer.

Viruses can only replicate inside host cells. During infection, the virus uses specialized molecular machines to copy its genes and to load them into protective capsules, which then spread to other cells. This project will employ cryo-Electron Microscopy and X-ray crystallography to image the machines and watch them in action.

Specifically, the project will ask what is the structure and mechanism of genome packaging motors of dsDNA viruses, such as herpes or poxviruses? What is the role of each component of the DNA-translocating motor, and what are the molecular interactions between individual protein components and DNA? How is ATP hydrolysis coupled to mechanical movement during DNA translocation? This information will inform the development of new treatments that can prevent or reduce virus infections.

The project is suitable for students who have strong interest in cryo-EM, virology and nucleic acid processing machines. Applicants should have a background in biochemistry and/or biophysics.

All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills:

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: This PhD project is available to study full-time or part-time (50%).

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2020. Induction activities will start on 28 September.

Funding Notes

This is a BBSRC White Rose DTP studentship fully funded for four years and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.

It is available to those who are eligible for research council studentships: View Website


Entry requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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