Eastern ARC Synthetic Biology PhD studentship at the University of Kent: Oxygen sensitive protein expression systems based on adaptive tools of anaerobic protozoa Print
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Wednesday, 14 January 2015 07:19

The deadline is fast approaching: 30 January 2015!


Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis, School of Biosciences, University of Kent
Dr. Tobias von der Haar, School of Biosciences, University of Kent
Prof. Nick Le Brun, School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia

Fe-S clusters are ubiquitous and essential co-factors in all living cells. They are present in important proteins involved in transcription, translation, DNA replication, DNA repair, amino acid synthesis, nucleotide metabolism, iron uptake and regulation, etc. Fe-S cluster biosynthesis is also considered the reason for the universal existence of mitochondria in all eukaryotes, since Fe-S cluster maturation involves essential cellular functions. Heterologous expression of eukaryotic Fe-S proteins is one of the most difficult tasks in synthetic biology, due to the sensitivity of these proteins to different environmental factors (e.g. oxygen). Anaerobic microbial eukaryotes (protozoa) have developed unique tools to overcome these difficulties. Among these are Fe-S cluster assembly machineries that have diversified their functions to survive the specialised lifestyles of these organisms.

The purpose of the proposed PhD project is to modify the Fe-S maturation machinery of yeast, a widespread fungal synthetic biology chassis, with proteins from anaerobic protozoa. The efficacy of the heterologous Fe-S systems will be tested using homologues of a specific Fe-S cluster protein, Rli1, a translation factor for which we have sensitive activity assays available. Insights from this initial work will then be used to develop generalised tools that facilitate expression of heterologous Fe-S proteins in diverse hosts.

This project will provide knowledge and tools that can be used to: (i) improve the roles and associations of the eukaryotic Fe-S cluster assembly and translational machineries in synthetic biology, (ii) develop yeast strains with novel functions and adaptations in different environmental conditions that can be used for bioproduction and/or bioremediation, and (iii) establish novel expression systems for the production of anaerobic proteins and systems to be used in the synthesis of oxygen-sensitive biocompounds. The project will bring together the expertises and supervisory roles of an anaerobic biochemist (Dr. Tsaousis) with that of a systems biologist (Dr. von der Haar) and of a biological chemist (Prof. Le Brun) to ensure that all goals will be met.

Please contact Dr. Anastasios (Tasos) Tsaousis at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or at +44 (0) 1227 827007 for more information.

To apply for the scholarships, please use the university application system at http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/search/award/PhD choosing either a PhD in Cell biology or Microbiology.

Further information concerning the Eastern ARC studentship can be found on the Kent website at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/scholarships/postgraduate/eastern_arc.html

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 January 2015 07:24 )