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Understanding and predicting specificity and selectivity in auxin receptor complex formation

Project Description

The formation of the TIR1/AFB-auxin-Aux/IAA auxin co-receptor complex is one of the most pivotal protein/ligand interaction events in plant biology. In promoting the association between TIR1/AFB F-box proteins and Aux/IAA co-repressors, endogenous auxins regulate almost every aspect of plant development from the earliest events of embryogenesis to the control of architecture of the entire adult plant. The function of this complex is to control gene expression by regulating levels of Aux/IAA transcriptional co-repressor proteins in response to auxin; the auxin-enhanced interaction between TIR1/AFB proteins and Aux/IAAs promotes the polyubiquitnation of the Aux/IAAs, marking them for destruction in the 26S proteasome.

Recent thinking about the TIR1 co-receptor complex has been dominated by a crystal structure of the complex that shows the auxin and Aux/IAA components binding to TIR1 in the same pocket. Within this pocket, auxin acts as a kind of ‘molecular glue’ to stabilise binding of the complex. Our recent work has defined a set of early interactions in the formation of the complex that are predicted to determine the specificity of TIR1-Aux/IAA interactions and also the selectivity of endogenous auxin molecules and synthetic auxinic herbicides. In this project, you would build of these exciting discoveries, learning and using techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) to address an intellectually intriguing and economically important question in structural and plant biology.

The project involves close collaboration with Richard Napier’s Lab at Warwick. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Stefan Kepinski () if they would like to discuss the project.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2019:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference allowance
• Research Costs

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.
EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency in order to receive full studentship

Not all projects advertised will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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