PhD Studentship: Firm or Limp? Deep Exploration of a Crucial Molecular Handshake for Chromosome Segregation

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Location: John Innes Centre, Norwich

Start Date: 1st October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Tung Le

Project description: Protein-protein interactions (molecular “handshakes”) are crucial for the operation and function of all living organisms. These interaction interface are often formed by a subset of key amino acid residues from each protein partner. Interfacial residues often vary between orthologs, indicating some degree of mutability or degeneracy. But it is unclear how plastic the interface is and how the combination of key amino acid residues at the interface supports a robust and specific protein-protein interaction. This DTP PhD project aims to comprehensively characterise the sequence space around an ancestral protein ParB that is crucial for bacterial chromosome segregation. The student will:

(i) characterise the effect on functions of all possible mutations and combination of mutations at a subset of amino acids that are crucial for ParB-ParB interaction by saturated mutagenesis and deep sequencing.

(ii) validate the functionality of the identified ParB variants by a combination of in vitro and in vivo techniques.

(ii) project the mutational sequence space on to the three-dimensional structure of ParB to fully characterise the sequence-structure-function relationship.

We use the Caulobacter crescentus chromosome partitioning protein B (ParB) as an ideal model system for this project.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Person specification: Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553 pa – 2017/8), 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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