PhD Studentship: Structure of bacterial protein transport machines in their cellular context

Website DiamondLightSou Diamond Light Source

Supervisors & University

University: University of Cambridge
University Supervisor: Prof. Ben Luisi
University Group: Department of Biochemistry
Diamond Supervisor: Dr. Peijun Zhang
Diamond Group: Electron Bio-Imaging Centre

Project Description

The project will investigate the mechanism of protein transport across the bacterial cell envelope. The transport process is driven by multicomponent nanomachines that translocate proteins from an unfolded state through the bacterial cell envelope and the cell exterior. The transport mechanism is driven by ATP binding and hydrolysis, and evidence supports a contribution of ratcheting of the transport substrate through coupled folding. The system that will be studied is a bacterial secretion system that transports toxins which lyse host cells. The transport system will be engineered to trap transport intermediates, which will be isolated for high resolution structure determination by single particle cryo electron microscopy. Labelling methods will be developed to localise the assembly in the cell envelope of the bacterium, and the transport machines will be visualised in situ using cryo electron tomography of whole cells. The high resolution models will be used to guide the interpretation of the cellular tomographic data. The project will be jointly supervised by Peijun Zhang at the eBIC microscopy facility at Diamond Light Source and Ben Luisi in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Cambridge and will involve a close collaboration with Lutz Schmitt at Dusseldorf University.


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