Microbiology (Jung)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Biology
Subject area
Project title
Transport and regulation: The role of solute/sodium symporters in bacterial signal transduction
Name of supervisor
Prof. Dr. Heinrich Jung
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place during the past 4 years.
Project time plan
Full Doctoral Study Model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

Transporters of the solute/sodium symporter (SSS) family transport sugars, amino acids, vitamins, and ions in cells of all domains of life. However, SSS proteins also form domains in prokaryotic signal transduction systems. The physiological significance and molecular mechanism of function of SSS domains in these systems are not known. Given that covalent binding between a transporter and a signal transduction system has emerged during evolution and has become widespread in the domain of bacteria, including Proteobacteria, this project focuses on elucidating the functional significance and underlying molecular mechanisms of the interactions between the SSS domain and signal transduction system. Using the sensor kinase/response regulator system MxtR/ErdR of the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida KT2440 as a model, we test a possible direct control of signal transduction by the SSS domain of MxtR in response to ion gradients, membrane potential, binding and/or transport of a solute. Furthermore, we investigate the influence of other sensor kinase domains on a possible transport activity of the SSS domain in response to intracellular stimuli. We expect the results of this project to provide new insights into the function of SSS family proteins and a better understanding of the regulatory networks of P. putida KT2440. These findings may facilitate the use of the genetically accessible, solvent-resistant and safe bacterium as a platform for industrial biosynthesis (for example, plastic-like polymers, biosurfactants). Since homologs of the MxtR/ErdR system are also found in important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we also expect to contribute to better understand the regulatory network of these bacteria.

Experience with microbiological techniques, e.g., generation of mutants and reporter strains, and molecular and biochemical techniques, e.g., purification and characterization of proteins, is required.

Henriquez, T. and Jung, H. (2021) Involvement of the MxtR/ErdR (CrbS/CrbR) two-component system in acetate metabolism in Pseudomonas putida KT2440. Microorganisms 9, 1558

Henriquez, T., Wirtz, L., Su, D., and Jung, H. (2021) Prokaryotic solute/sodium symporters: versatile functions and mechanisms of a transporter family. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 22, 1880

Wirtz, L., Eder, M., Schipper, K., Rohrer, S., and Jung, H. (2020) Transport and kinase activities of CbrA of Pseudomoinas putida KT2440. Sci. Rep. 10, 5400

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