Ancient metal cofactors in health and disease (BALK_J19DTP1)
- Research Area Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
- Partner The John Innes Centre (JIC)
Dr Janneke Balk -
- Application Deadline 26/11/2018
This PhD project will address the biosynthesis of ancient metal cofactors called iron-sulfur clusters. It is widely believed that iron and sulfur were instrumental to the origin of life, acting as the first catalysts in the primordial soup. Virtually all life forms have incorporated iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters into their cells, now as cofactors in enzymes that catalyze electron transfer, chemical transformations or in regulatory proteins. In addition, cells have evolved biochemical pathways to assemble Fe-S clusters, a process that needs to be tightly choreographed to avoid toxicity of free iron or free sulfur. Mutations in assembly pathway proteins lead to mitochondrial diseases for which there is currently no cure or therapy. To better understand the function of several proteins in this pathway, a biochemical approach will be undertaken. The project is supervised by Dr Janneke Balk and Prof Nick Le Brun, two experts in metal proteins. The student will learn molecular cloning, protein expression and purification, working in an anaerobic environment, native mass spectrometry and enzyme measurements. The project is enhanced by collaborations with industry and with clinicians interested in mitochondrial diseases.