PhD studentship available Biophysical Studies of a Coenzyme B12-Dependent Photoreceptor Protein

Supervisors: Dr Alex R Jones (Chemistry) and Prof Nigel S Scrutton (Faculty of Life Sciences)

Anticipated start date for project: 16 September 2013

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2013

A PhD position is available in the School of Chemistry to investigate the photophysical and photochemical mechanism of the coenzyme B12-dependent photoreceptor protein TtCarH from the bacterium Thermus thermophilus. Coenzyme B12 is the largest non-polymeric biomolecule in nature and is vital for healthy physiological function. It acts as cofactor to numerous enzymes, is a metabolite that binds to riboswitches and has recently been discovered to function as photoreceptor chromophore. B12-dependent TtCarH is a transcriptional regulator that in the dark binds to DNA as a tetramer, thereby blocking gene expression. When exposed to light the tetramer dissociates, turning on gene expression and ultimately triggering synthesis of carotenoids, which protect cells against oxidative damage. Using mainly time-resolved laser-based methods housed in the Photon Science Institute (PSI) and Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), the successful candidate will characterise the TtCarH photoresponse. This will require growth and purification of large quantities of high quality, recombinant protein, which will be reconstituted with coenzyme B12 under safe-light. Data will be acquired across timescales (femtoseconds-seconds) using spectral and single wavelength detection in the UV-visible and infrared. The student will then analyse the data using global analysis and kinetic fitting. Such an approach will allow us to relate the photochemistry of the B12 chromophore to the ultimate dissociation of the protein. This work is in collaboration with Prof. Montserrat Elías-Arnanz (Murcia, Spain) and Dr. S. Padmanabhan (Madrid, Spain).

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The successful applicant will be highly motivated, with excellent organisation and communication skills, and be able to work with initiative within a multidisciplinary group. Some experience in the following areas is desirable: preparation and handling of recombinant proteins; biophysical spectroscopy; laser spectroscopy; transient data analysis.


Applicants should have, or expect to receive, a degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry or closely related subject awarded at 2:1 or above.


The EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant (DTG) is for 42 months with a stipend starting at £13,726 for 2013/14. For full eligibility requirements see:

Contact and Information

Informal Enquiries should be made to Dr. Jones:


To be sent to Dr. Jones by e mail and include a cover letter, CV and names and addresses of two referees. You can also submit an online application  via the ‘Apply’ button below.

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