PhD Studentship: The regulation of development in the antibiotic-producing bacteria Streptomyces (BUTTNER_J17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Buttner

Project description: Streptomycetes are filamentous bacteria that grow by tip extension and branching to form a vegetative mycelium. Nutrient depletion triggers a developmental program that leads to the formation of specialized reproductive structures called aerial hyphae, which ultimately give rise to long chains of spores. This program is genetically and temporally coordinated with the production of numerous commercially important antibiotics (Streptomycetes account for $40 billion of revenue annually in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide). The transition from vegetative growth to the formation of aerial hyphae is controlled by a regulatory switch consisting of a sigma factor, BldN, and its cognate anti-sigma, RsbN, a transmembrane protein. After BldN is expressed, it is held inactive by RsbN, which sequesters it to the membrane, until an unknown signal triggers Regulated Intramembrane Proteolysis (RIP) of RsbN and release of BldN into the cytoplasm. The goals of this project are to identify the signal that triggers release of BldN and to characterize the proteolytic process that inactivates RsbN.

Bibb, M.J., Domonkos, Á., Chandra, G., and Buttner, M.J. (2012) Expression of the chaplin and rodlin hydrophobic sheath proteins in Streptomyces venezuelae is controlled by BldN and a cognate anti-sigma factor, RsbN. Mol. Microbiol. 84:1033-1049.

Bush, M.J., Tschowri, N., Schlimpert, S., Flärdh, K., and Buttner, M.J. (2015) c-di-GMP signalling and the regulation of developmental transitions in streptomycetes. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 13:749-760.

Tschowri, N., Schumacher, M.A., Schlimpert, S., Chinnam, N.B., Findlay, K.C., Brennan, R.G., and Buttner, M.J. (2014) Tetrameric c-di-GMP mediates effective transcription factor dimerization to control Streptomyces development. Cell 158:1136-1147.

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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South East England