PhD Studentship: Biochemistry of the Sulfur-Cycle (BUTT_U17DTP2)

University of East Anglia - School of Chemistry

Start Date:  1st October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Julea Butt

Project description: This project will study the mechanism of a family of heme-containing enzymes that catalyse interconversion of tetrathionate and thiosulfate. In pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni a member of this family terminates anaerobic respiratory electron transfer through tetrathionate reduction to thiosulfate. In purple-sulfur bacteria such as Allochromatium vinosum this enzyme provides electrons for CO2-fixation through thiosulfate oxidation to tetrathionate. During the project catalytic properties of the purified proteins will be resolved by electrochemical methods after their adsorption as electrocatalytically active (sub-)monolayers on electrode surfaces. Complementary insight into the nature of the cofactors and redox transformations underpinning catalysis will be provided by absorbance spectroscopies. The results will be integrated to propose a catalytic mechanism for the tetrathionate to thiosulfate interconversion.

Studies will be performed under the supervision of Prof Julea Butt (University of East Anglia) in a collaboration with Dr Christiane Dahl (University of Bonn). The successful applicant will have a desire to develop skills in the characterisation of redox active metalloproteins and relevant experience in biochemistry, chemistry or biophysics. Full training will be provided in protein electrochemistry and (magneto-)optical spectroscopies and enzymology. Further information can be provided on request to Julea Butt (

Background information can be found in:

Kurth et al 2015  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137:13232

Brito et al 2015  J. Biol. Chem.   290: 9222

Grabarczyk et al 2015  J. Biol. Chem. 290:9209

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296 pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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