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WR DTP project: LTA: sticking, binding and anchoring? Using cutting-edge glycobiology to address molecular interactions of a Gram+ bacteria cell-wall biomarker.

Department of Biology

About the Project

Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) a dominant component of from the cell-wall of Gram+ bacteria can trigger host defense mechanisms helping to fight infection. LTA seems to interact with an array of host molecules found “out, on or in” cells of the immune system. However, how the LTA molecule engages in these interactions remains poorly understood.

The proposed project aims to define how the different domains of LTA and the amphiphilic nature of this molecule contribute to interactions that have a biological impact. You will use cutting-edge chemical biology methods to generate novel tools enabling the study of LTA interactions at the molecular level. Your first aim is to design LTA analogues able to dissect mechanisms using well-characterised cell lines. Interactions will be studied using combination of flow cytometry, imaging and biochemical techniques, and biological impact will be tested with routine LTA-stimulation cell assays.

This project offers a unique opportunity to gain advanced interdisciplinary training, applying cutting-edge developments in chemistry to tackle challenging biological questions. Supported by the combined expertise in immunobiology and chemical glycobiology from the supervisors’ research groups, the student will develop scientific skills in areas of molecular cell biology and biochemistry that will enable to characterise the biological significance of LTA multiple interactions. This project should rapidly generate valuable findings leading to a better understanding of mechanisms supporting microbe/host interplay.

The White Rose DTP in Mechanistic Biology is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Programme in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

Not all projects will be funded; a limited number of candidates will be appointed via a competitive process.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021

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