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The role of peptide transporters in intrinsic resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics

Department of Biology

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Prof G H Thomas , Dr M van der Woude No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a massive issue facing mankind, that threatens our ability to control infectious disease. While much of this resistance is mediated by genes that can move about to confer a specific modification or removal of the antibiotic, there are many native host genes that influence the intrinsic level of resistance to antibiotics. The ability of beta-lactam antibiotics like penicillin to function is based on their chemical structure that mimics that of a peptide found in the cell wall. This peptide-like structure is also what enables them to be efficiently taken up in our gut cells when we take the antibiotic. This is mediated by human peptide transporters that are involved in uptake and systemic dissemination of the antibiotic around the body. In the Thomas lab we have studied a range of bacterial transporters, including peptide transporters, and have data that suggests that these transporters might have a role in intrinsic resistance to beta-lactams, through the rapid uptake of beta-lactams into the cell and removal from their site of action in the periplasm. In this project the student will investigate this hypothesis and the roles of diverse peptide transporters in this process, in E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium and Staphylococcus aureus, whilst also learning more generally about the physiological role of these transporters in bacteria. The project will include a range of bacterial genetic methods, growth experiments combined with some protein biochemistry where relevant. The project will provide insight into bacterial transport function and potentially undercover a previously unappreciated route for modulating the susceptibility of bacteria to beta-lactam antibiotics.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project. Applicants need to have adequate funds to meet the costs of a self-funded research project including tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the research programme. Please see information on tuition fee costs, living expenses and funding opportunities.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.


Applications are welcome for either for a 1-year MSc by Research or for a 3-year PhD.
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