Crystallization and phase behaviour of membrane transporters in lipid-detergent micelles (ESR5)

Applications are invited for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR)/PhD studentship position funded by The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN) programme Rationalising Membrane Protein Crystallisation (RAMP) and based at Aarhus University and DANDRITE of the Nordic-EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine.

This project aims at investigating phase behaviour and dynamics of lipid-detergent micelles used in crystallization of membrane transporters. A particular aim will be to identify and characterize phase behaviours that support crystal formation and growth such as by HILIDE and bicelle methods, and thereby to identify rational combinations of lipids, detergents and buffer components that promote growth of well-diffracting membrane protein crystals at optimal in size for e.g. XFEL, electron diffraction, synchrotron sources and neutron sources. Furthermore, rational strategies for cryo-protection of crystals will be established. The project will involve a range of biophysical and biochemical techniques to characterize samples, such as by light microscopy, electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction studies. The target proteins will include P-type ATPase ion pumps and secondary transporters of the SLC6 family (see e.g. Gourdon et al. 2011; Malinauskaite et al. 2014). Short-term secondments are planned at the Universities of Hamburg and Grenoble to learn specific techniques, and with Molecular Dimensions and Novartis to implement and adapt methodologies towards specific applications.

The PhD project is one of 12 in this training network. The project will involve secondments to other network partners with specialised crystallisation and crystallography expertise, or derived applications.

Applicants should have a BSc in Biochemistry/Chemistry/Biophysics or related discipline and an associated Masters or an equivalent level of professional qualifications or experience. Knowledge and experience of protein crystallization and membrane proteins is desirable, but not essential.

Candidates must comply with EU eligibility criteria. Due to the EU rules to promote mobility, you are not eligible for a position in a country where you have lived (worked, studies) form more than 12 months in the last 3 years. So for this position you are eligible unless you have studied or worked in Denmark for more than 12 of the last 36 months. For applicants finishing or who have just finished their degree, this typically means that you can be graduating from any university in the EU except a Danish university.

Further details on this project are available from Prof. Poul Nissen (pn@mbg.au.dk).

Author: Richard Sear

Computational physicist at the University of Surrey. My research interests are in crystallisation, soft matter & biological physics