I have an opening for a PhD student in my lab at the University of East Anglia, UK, to study the TARP protein from Chlamydia by NMR and other structural techniques.
Sexually transmitted Chlamydia can lead to complications such as inflammatory disease and infertility. Chlamydia is an obligatory intracellular parasite, and has developed very efficient mechanisms to enter the host cells, sometimes referred to as “parasite-specified phagocytosis”.
This process of cell invasion is not yet well understood. After attaching to the cell surface, Chlamydia recruits actin to the site of invasion to form an actin-rich pedestal at the site of entry. TARP (translocated actin-recruiting phosphoprotein) is translocated from Chlamydia into the cytoplasm of the host cell in the early stages of invasion, using the type III secretion machinery. During this process, it becomes accessible to the extracellular medium, making it a possible target for drug or vaccine development. The N-terminal region of TARP contains a number of Tyr-rich domains that are phosphorylated inside the host cell, while the C-terminal region is capable of nucleating the formation of actin filaments.
To study TARP, this project applies protein expression and purification, associated to structural techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, which are very powerful for understanding molecular interactions at the atomic level. We aim to elucidate how the structural aspects of TARP allow its interaction with actin, and how that leads to the mechanism by which TARP recruits actin to the invasion site and nucleates its polymerisation. A more effective understanding of the initial steps of cell invasion by Chlamydia can lead to more efficient methods for prevention and control of infection.
For more information, please contact me:
Dr. Tharin Blumenschein, Lecturer
School of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy
University of East Anglia
Norwich - NR4 7TJ
Phone: +44 (0)1603 59 2963