Synthetic phage therapy

Synthetic phage therapy

Study honours in synthetic phage therapy and investigate the structural biology of bacteriophage proteins.

Knowing the three dimensional structure of a protein allows us to have a detailed, molecular level understanding of the function of that protein.

For bacteriophage 186, we have crystal structures of the CI repressor, which forms a wheel-like complex of 12 subunits, and of CII, which is a transcriptional activator protein able to interact with RNA polymerase.

In addition to understanding the molecular basis of phage decision making, we are also interested in developing ‘synthetic’ phage with enhanced bacterial killing properties for phage therapy.

One approach is to develop phage able to display various enzymatic activities on their surface. For example, a phage which displays an enzyme capable of breaking down biofilms might be more effective in reaching its bacterial target.

To evaluate which phage structural proteins would provide the best platform for surface display, we would like to survey a number of proteins from bacteriophage 186, and from other phage, to assess their suitability for structure determination by either X-ray crystallography or cryo-EM.

This project would involve cloning, expression and purification of some candidate proteins, followed by structure determination of the promising candidates.

Keith Shearwin


Associate Professor Keith Shearwin

Co-supervisor: Dr Nan Hao | Dr Ian Dodd

Research area:  Synthetic biology, biochemistry, genetics and mathematical modelling

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Molecular and Biomedical Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science, Honours projects - Keith Shearwin, Honours projects - Nan Hao, Honours projects - Ian Dodd, Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science: Biochemistry