Magnetic bacteria form precise magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) in magnetosomes using magnetosome membrane specific (Mms) biomineralisation proteins. Mms proteins control nanomaterial formation in vitro so could be developed into additives for green nanomaterial manufacturing, if the process is better understood. The key drawbacks to realisation are: 1. Mms membrane proteins are difficult to express/purify; 2. Structural information is notoriously difficult to obtain, as Mms proteins are intrinsically disordered:- they have no crystal structures.
The supervisors of this project collaborated to contribute significantly to understanding Mms6 using NMR2 but little is known structurally about more important Mms proteins like MmsF3. Critically Dr Staniland has succeeded in overcoming drawback 1 by forming the scaffold construct MmsFcc1 and has formed a suite of point-mutated versions that have varying effect on MNP formation. Our hypothesis is structural features (aromatic residues) are critical to biomineralisation.
This project will focus on characterising MmsFcc and mutants as they interact with iron ions and growing MNP using NMR and supported by other assays (e.g. ELISA), building up to assessing peptide sequences found from biopanning against MNPs⁴, to form a hypothetical mechanism that can be tested with designed peptides and molecules with the hypothesized function. These could be optimised for green additives for nanomaterial manufacture.
EPSRC Funded Project, for further funding and eligibility information, please follow the below link: View Website