Projects

We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

27 / 09 / 2018

Choosing the right partner: investigating the DNA-binding specificity of a crucial protein for chromosome segregation (LE_J19DTP)

how to apply

Faithful chromosome segregation is essential in all domains of life if daughter cells are to inherit a full copy of the genetic information. ParB, a DNA-binding protein, is crucial for chromosome segregation in two-thirds of all bacterial species. In this project, the student will employ ParB from Caulobacter crescentus as a model to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the DNA-binding specificity of ParB, to ultimately understand the DNA-binding specificity and the evolvability of these proteins. Beyond chromosome segregation, DNA-binding proteins play transcriptional regulatory roles in the development, homeostasis, and adaptation of living organisms to changing environments (antibiotics stress, starvation etc.). Hundreds of DNA-binding proteins are able to regulate and coordinate cellular events due to their distinct specificities for their cognate DNA-binding sites. Yet little is known about the mechanisms underlying the evolution to a new binding specificity and the evolvability of DNA-binding proteins from their ancestors. This study will provide critical new insights into the evolution of ParB that coordinates chromosome organization and segregation. Furthermore, the gained knowledge will likely facilitate the effort of re-engineering ParB or transcriptional factors with new DNA-binding specificity for synthetic biology.

This multidisciplinary project will be based in the lab of Dr. Le at the John Innes Centre. Skills will be developed in enzymology, bacterial genetics, cutting-edge deep sequencing techniques, protein purification and engineering, and bioinformatics. Applicants should have (or be about to receive) an honors degree in biochemistry or microbiology (or a related discipline). Pre-application enquiries are welcomed.