We welcome enquiries from PhD-qualified researchers from all countries outside the UK wishing to apply for a European Commission-funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to come to work with us at Aston. Subject areas might include recombinant protein production in yeast, translational processes in recombinant protein production, bioprocessing and the regulation of aquaporin water channels. Please contact Roslyn Bill for further details.
Membrane proteins play pivotal roles in all cellular functions. These include the transport of nutrients, the export of toxins and cell-cell interactions. They are also ubiquitous: ~30% of all proteins in all cells are membrane proteins. Consequently they are already key drug targets, with the majority of prescription pharmaceuticals on the market being targeted to this class of protein. Unfortunately, however, they are neither naturally abundant nor stable, which means that in the vast majority of cases extracting them from natural sources is not a viable option in order to study their structures, functions and biochemistry.
A main theme of our research activity is developing yeast as a “cell factory” to make membrane proteins in sufficient quantity and of appropriate quality for further study. Our approach is to move away from “trial and error” and to rationalize recombinant protein production by understanding the host cell response to it. We aim to:
- increase the volumetric yield – Microb Cell Fact. 2010, 9:47;
- increase the yield “per cell” – BMC Genomics. 2008, 9:365; Microb Cell Fact. 2009, 8:1; Microb Cell Fact. 2009, 8:35; and
- understand the molecular mechanisms involved – Nat Biotechnol. 2011, 29: 335-340.
Our review in Biochem Soc Trans provides a good overview of our approach – see Biochem Soc Trans. 2011, 39: 719-723.
To listen to an interview on BBC Midlands Today click here. To see a podcast on what we do, click here. Our yeast engineering work is also highlighted in a recent meeting report and in The New Optimists - click here to see the interview
A second theme of our work is examining in detail the regulation of water channel proteins (aquaporins), which is one of the protein families we produce in our yeast cell factories and are of interest as novel drug targets. We recently showed that AQP1 is regulated by extracellular water availability (Biochemistry. 2010, 49:821-3). This work was featured on the front cover of its issue, and as part of the 50th birthday cover. To listen to a podcast on our work on membrane proteins more generally click here.
To read more about our work on G protein-coupled receptors, click here* and here.
We acknowledge EPSRC, BBSRC, the Technology Strategy Board, AstraZeneca Ltd, Alpha Biologics Ltd, Applikon Biotechnology, Johnson & Johnson, Glycoform Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline, Polytherics Ltd, Sauflon Ltd and the European Commission for their support.
We have co-ordinated three Framework Programme 6 projects: European Membrane Protein Consortium (E-MeP), E-MeP-Lab and OptiCryst. We were a partner of the Framework Programme 7 EDICT project.We are part of the IMI-funded ENABLE project.
We are currently two postdoctoral fellows, one Marie Sklodowska-Curie International Incoming Fellow, four PhD students and a placement student working with OPPF-UK.
Dr Sarah Routledge is a BBSRC-funded postdoctoral fellow supported by a project in collaboration with Professor David Poyner, Aston University and Professors Mark Wheatley and Tim Dafforn, University of Birmingham
Dr Stephanie Cartwright is a European Commission funded postdoctoral fellow working in collaboration with Professor Justin MacDonald, University of Calgary, Canada
Professor Justin MacDonald, University of Calgary, Canada, is an International Incoming Fellow visiting our laboratory with funding from the European Commission
Ms Michelle Clare is a 4th year PhD student supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with Johnson & Johnson
Ms Anjana Patel is a 2nd year PhD student supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with Sauflon Ltd
Ms Lina Mikaliunaite is a 2nd year PhD student supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with GlaxoSmithKline Ltd
I also co-supervise Mr David Hardy with Dr Alice Rothnie; David is a 1st year PhD student supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with Calixar
Mr Bilaal Salad is a placement student working with OPPF-UK
Dr Marvin Dilworth, supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with Glycoform Ltd, passed his viva on 23rd June 2014 and took up a position at King's College London with Professor Paula Booth
Dr Zharain Bawa, supported by a BBSRC CASE studentship with AstraZeneca Ltd, passed her viva on 3rd June 2014 and took up a position at Public Health England
Dr Debasmita Sarkar, a postdoctoral fellow supported by Aston University in collaboration with OPPF-UK, took up a BBSRC-funded research fellow position at Aston University, Birmingham
Dr Stephanie Cartwright, supported by a BBSRC targeted priority studentship in ageing, passed her viva on 15th August 2013 and took up a European-Commission-funded postdoctoral position at Aston University, Birmingham
Ms Charlie Bland, a research technician supported the EDICT project, took up a research technician post at Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing
Dr Matthew Conner, a postdoctoral researcher supported by the EDICT project, took up a lectureship at Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Sarah Routledge, supported by an EPSRC CASE studentship with Applikon Biotechnology, passed her viva on 2nd March 2012 and took up a BBSRC-funded postdoctoral position at Aston University, Birmingham
Dr Nicklas Bonander, a postdoctoral researcher supported by the OptiCryst project, took up a position at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg
Dr Nagamani Bora, a postdoctoral researcher supported by the Technology Programme, funded through EPSRC, in collaboration with Glycoform Ltd and Polytherics Ltd, took up a senior lectureship at De Montfort University
Dr Richard Darby, a former postdoctoral researcher supported by the E-MeP project, took up a position at the John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford
Dr Ljuban Grgic, a former postdoctoral researcher supported by the E-MeP project, took up a position at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge
Dr Mohammed Jamshad, a former postdoctoral researcher supported by the E-MeP project, took up a position at the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham
Dr William Holmes, supported by an EPSRC CASE award with Alpha Biologics, passed his viva on 11th March 2009 and took up a position at MedImmune, Cambridge
M Eric Bourguignon, a former European Research Project Officer supported by E-MeP, took up a position as a project administrator at the Technical University in Munich
Dr Daniela Tomescu is a former European Research Project Officer supported by E-MeP, took up a position as a project administrator at the University of Cambridge
See also my Google Scholar Profile
Recommended reading! Recombinant Protein Production in Yeast, Bill RM, Ed, in the Methods in Molecular Biology series, Springer