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*EASTBIO* Using outer membrane bioconjugation in Escherichia coli to create novel chemo-enzymatic systems

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Wallace
    Prof S Rosser
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project aims to use modern synthetic biology and synthetic chemistry techniques to create new recombinant cells for use in synthetic biotechnology. In particular, we are interested in engineering E. coli cells to perform reaction sequences that cannot be accomplished using enzymes alone.

The first aim of this project will be to use unnatural amino acid incorporation (via AMBER stop codon suppression) and bioconjugation chemistry to anchor catalysts to the surface of E. coli, whilst at the same time expressing enzymes inside of the cell. This will create “Super Cells” – engineered bacterial cells that can now perform both enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions simultaneously. These recombinant cells will then be used in vitro to carry out a variety of chemo-enzymatic reaction cascades, with the overall aim of synthesizing molecules of industrial/medicinal value.

The second aim of this project will be to use this approach in conjunction with de novo biosynthetic pathway design in E. coli. This will enable the in situ modification of metabolites in fermentations and create a new way of producing non-natural molecules directly from renewable starting materials.

The multi-disciplinary nature of this project will allow students to develop a strong proficiency in cellular engineering techniques (both chemical and genetic), whole-cell biocatalysis and organic synthesis. This project will likely be best suited to students from a biotechnology/biochemistry/organic synthesis background with an interest in synthetic biology, synthetic organic chemistry and/or the production of small molecules via microbial fermentation.

Further Information
This project will be co-supervised by Prof. Susan Rosser and Dr Stephen Wallace at the Institute of Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (IQB3) in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. This research will expose students to a variety of techniques including unnatural amino acid incorporation (Wallace/Rosser), recombinant DNA assembly (Rosser), synthetic biology (Rosser), whole-cell biocatalysis (Wallace), in vivo bioconjugation (Wallace), and synthetic organic chemistry (Wallace).

Lab web site url: http://rosser.bio.ed.ac.uk/professor-susan-rosser

Funding Notes

Project and application details can be found at the website below. You must follow the instructions on the EASTBIO website for your application to be considered.

This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body.



[1] S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 2014, 30, 1–8

[2] S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7106–7109

[3] S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 6023–6027

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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