ESR2: Mucin-like glycocalyx modules for creating complex artificial glycocalyxes

Location: University of Leeds, UK

Supervisor Prof Bruce Turnbull

All cells are covered with a coating of complex carbohydrates (the glycocalyx) and many viruses, bacteria and protein toxins produced by bacteria exploit this sugar coating as a means of binding to and entering their target cells. The glycocalyx on many living cells extends >100 nm from the cell membrane, and its outer portion is dominated by proteoglycans and mucins which have extended and highly glycosylated structures. Interactions of proteins with these glycosylated structures is important for cellular interactions and also may influence the ability of bacterial toxins to reach their primary receptors on the cell membrane. The aim of this project is to construct artificial mucin-like structures that bear blood group antigens and/or tumour-associated carbohydrate antigens and to incorporate them into artificial cells (protocells) and biosensor arrays for protein binding experiments using natural and re-engineered lectins. The tool box of novel glycocalyx complexes that you create will have applications in developing diagnostic and analytical methods for detecting toxins, parasites or antibodies against tumour antigens.

Through this interdisciplinary project you will develop skills in chemical and enzymatic synthesis of carbohydrates; bioorthogonal ligation chemistry; biophysical techniques for measuring the affinity for molecular interactions; functionalization of biomimetic surfaces. Appropriate training will be provided in all areas that are new to the researcher.

Applicants should meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a Diploma and/or a Master Degree in chemistry, or a closely related subject.
  • Have less than 4 years research experience at the signature of the contract (measured from the time the Master’s degree has been obtained).
  • Not have a PhD already.
  • Not have resided or carried out main activity in the United Kingdom for more than 12 months in the last 3 years immediately prior to the reference recruitment date.
  • Excellent knowledge of the English language (spoken and written / proficiency level)
  • Training on required laboratory techniques will be provided through the synBIOcarb network. However, practical experience in protein chemistry would be advantageous.

The ESR will be contractually employed by University of Leeds and will receive a Monthly Living Allowance plus a Mobility Allowance compliant with the applicable EC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-ITN general conditions. 

Application procedure:

Candidates for this position (ESR2-MAPCH1108) must complete the online application form. In the supporting statements section, it is important to give specific examples for how you meet each criterion. As part of the online process, you will also need to upload a CV, cover letter and the names and contact details of 2 referees.

Informal inquiries can be made by e-mail to indicating reference ESR2-MAPCH1108 in the subject.

The deadline for application is 07/01/2019

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