Proton pumping in sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase studied by neutron crystallography (ESR12)

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 obtaining large, well-diffracting crystals of the sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase that are suitable for neutron diffraction studies. The aim of neutron diffraction studies will be elucidate the mechanism of proton counter transport e.g. by identification of protonated side chains at the ion binding sites in the membrane and by mapping the distribution of H-bonds along a proposed proton-conducting pathway (see e.g. Bublitz et al. 2013). Results of this experimental approach will be compared to modelling studies obtained by Molecular Dynamics simulations. As a secondary project, another membrane protein may also be included, namely the amino acid transporter LeuT, where a proposed proton counter transport scheme will be investigated in relation to the inward-to-outward return switch (see e.g. Malinauskaite et al. 2016). Short-term secondments are planned at ESS and the University of Grenoble to learn specific techniques of neutron crystallography, and with AstraZeneca for crystallographic training and practice in a pharmaceutical industry setting.

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