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Understanding mycobacterial immune stimulation through the study of novel glycoside hydrolases.

School of Biosciences

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Dr P Moynihan , Dr A Lovering No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The frontline in the war between pathogen and host is waged at the bacterial cell surface. Typically referred to as the cell wall, this structure is a complex macromolecule comprised of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. In mycobacteria, including the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the agricultural pathogen Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, this cell wall has several unique features not found in other bacteria. During infection, mycobacteria secrete some of these unique components to engage with the immune system and coordinate the development of their niche. Our recent work (1) shows that they control the release of their peptidoglycan, but we have evidence that similar mechanisms exist for other components of their cell wall. In this project, you will uncover the cryptic mycobacterial proteins which govern this process.

The project will include a range of techniques, including systems biology, microbiology, biochemistry and structural biology. You will have the opportunity to follow your curiosity in a supportive learning environment. Please see the references below for some examples of the techniques we use, especially reference 1.

You are invited to contact Dr Moynihan directly to discuss your application prior to submission

Funding Notes

The project can be funded by the MIBTP-BBSRC programme (UK and EU students; & or a Darwin Trust scholarship (Worldwide). Please state which scheme you wish to be considered for. For MIBTP-BBSRC, you need to fill in a University of Birmingham application AND the short notification form on the University of Warwick MIBTP portal. The notification form can be submitted here">

Further details on the BBSRC MIBTP scheme here:
Deadline: Jan 10th 2021
Studentships available: 30
Stipend: RCUK standard rate (+travel and laptop).

To check eligibility visit:


1. Moynihan P.J.*, Oliveira A., Cadby I.T., Veerapen N., Jankute M., Crosatti L., Mukamolova G., Saraiva M., Lovering A. and Besra G.S. (2019) The hydrolase LpqI primes mycobacterial peptidoglycan recycling. Nature Communications. 10(1), 2647.
* = corresponding author

2. Meek R., Cadby I., Moynihan P.J., Lovering A. (2019) Structural Basis for Activation of a Bdellovibrio Diguanylate Cyclase that Licenses Prey Entry. Nature Communications. 10(1), 4086.

3. Harding, C. J., Huwiler, S. G., Somers, H., Lambert, C., Ray, L. J., Till, R., Taylor, G., Moynihan, P. J., Sockett, R. E., and Lovering, A. L. (2020) A lysozyme with altered substrate specificity facilitates prey cell exit by the periplasmic predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Nature Communications. 11(1), 4817.

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