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The role of non-coding RNAs in the regulation of gene expression in Bordetella pertussis.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Andrew Preston
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisors: Dr Andrew Preston, University of Bath; Prof. Andrew Gorringe, Public Health England, Porton Down.

Until recently, small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) were thought to be a feature of eukaryotic cells. However, it is now clear that they are widespread among bacteria, but, relatively little is known about the various potential functions of bacterial ncRNAs. From RNAseq data, we have identified several hundred putative ncRNAs in the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Many of these appear to be anti-sense to the coding region of protein coding genes. We hypothesise that these ncRNAs are involved in regulation of the genes to which they are antisense. This project will test this hypothesis and thus explore the role of ncRNAs in bacterial gene expression and bacterial biology in general.

To do this, several ncRNAs will be fully characterised, focusing on their roles in regulating the expression of coding genes. This project will incorporate functional genomics, molecular biology, molecular microbiology and protein assays.

Primarily based in the Preston lab in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at Bath, the project will be conducted collaboratively with Public Health England at Porton Down. This provides an excellent opportunity to receive specialist training in the labs at Porton and to learn about the role of this executive agency of the Department of Health in public health research and policy. The student will conduct a placement at PHE Porton as part of their project studies, and will also have access to wider training opportunities within the PHE.

Thus, the project is within a fast moving area of research and will provide a multidisciplinary, broad training combining functional genomics and bioinformatics with wet lab studies.

Funding Notes

The successful candidate will be awarded a highly competitive PhD studentship which will cover their full Home/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000/annum and a tax-free stipend of £14,057/annum (15/16 rate) for 3.5 years.
This funding will be covered by the University of Bath Research Studentship Account (Science ) and by Public Health England.

He/She will be expected to start their PhD in October 2016.


Belcher T & Preston A; Bordetella pertussis evolution in the (functional) genomics era. Pathogens and Disease 73, (2015) ftv064. doi: 10.1093/femspd/ftv064

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