Applying structural techniques to understand the function of bacterial virulence factors
Background: Bacteria use different strategies to infect their hosts, such as the strong attachment to surfaces in or on the host organisms by so-called ‘adhesins’ and the secretion of bacterial toxins. In both cases, the bacterial virulence factors need to dock on to host cell receptors. We plan to elucidate the structure and function of several important bacterial virulence factors, which will also be useful for the design of vaccines and prophylactics.
Aim: To gain a full understanding of the molecular mechanisms of important bacterial virulence factors.
Methods: The project will combine structural biology and materials science techniques to understand the function of the proteins. Production and purification of proteins. The student will optimize established expression and purification protocols and screen crystallization conditions. Protein structures will be determined using X-ray diffraction and Small-Angle Scattering techniques. Qualitative and quantitative binding and interaction studies between protein and carbohydrates. Other possible tasks will include carbohydrate modification and protein deuteration.
The project will involve data collection at international facilities, such as the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble and MAX IV in Lund, as well as neutron sources such as Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble.
Who: The student should be interested in the protein structures and the variety of methods that can be applied to study the structure and the function of proteins.