Competition Funded Studentship Bacilliredoxins and Bacillithiol

Faculty of Science

Bacilliredoxins and bacillithiol: Unique redox systems amongst the Bacilli (DTP 025 U13)            

Research Keywords:
Biochemistry; Biotechnology; Microbiology; Molecular Biology

Deadline: 1 March 2013.

Start Date: 1 October 2013.

Supervisory Team:
Primary: Dr Chris Hamilton

The Project:

Glutathione (GSH) is the predominant thiol redox buffer in Eukaryotes and Gram negative bacteria. Protein glutathionylation (formation of GSS-protein mixed disulfides) is employed in the redox regulation of protein function and to protect exposed cysteine residues from irreversible damage during oxidative stress. The reversibility of protein glutathionylation is mediated by glutaredoxin (Grx) enzymes, which reductively regenerate the free protein thiols.[1] Gram positive bacteria do not produce GSH.

Bacillithiol (BSH) has been identified as the GSH surrogate amongst many Bacilli and low G+C Gram positive bacteria (ie Firmicutes).[2] These include several bacteria of medical, commercial and environmental importance such as Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus anthracis (microbial pathogens), Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus cereus (food spoilage). Protein-S-bacillithiolation was recently identified in B. subtilis as a defence mechanism in response to oxidative stress.[3] Three candidate bacilliredoxins (Brx) and a bacillithiol disulfide reductase have been identified that are conserved amongst other BSH-producing bacteria.

We will unravel the unique characteristics of this newly discovered redox system to address these fundamental questions about BSH redox biology using Bacillus subtilis as a model microorganism. The fundamental BSH/Brx redox pathways revealed in B. subtilis willlikely be mirrored in other BSH-utilising bacteria of medical, agricultural and environmental importance.

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This project offers a strong platform of interdisciplinary research training in aspects of protein biochemistry, enzymology, molecular biology and redox proteomics. There are also opportunities to visit the lab of Dr Graham Christie (University of Cambridge) to be trained in redox-sensitive green fluorescence protein methodologies.

In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be expected to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their degree. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration between the Norwich Biosciences Institutes and the University of East Anglia. For further information and application details please see the Norwich Biosciences DTP website:

Suitable applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition.  The interview date will be Monday 18th March 2013.

Entry Requirements:

A first or upper second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

The 4-year BBSRC DTP studentship offers full funding to UK nationals and EU nationals who have resided in the UK (in full-time education or full-time residency) for 3 years prior to the start date of the studentship. In most other cases EU nationals will receive funding to cover their tuition-fees only. The current stipend for 2012/13 is £13,590 per annum.

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See BBSRC eligibility:

Making Your Application: Please apply via the University’s online application system.  

To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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