PhD candidate Intestinal host-microbe interactions (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 11 months ago
Deadline: 16 Nov 2019

We are looking for a PhD candidate in the area of “Intestinal host-microbe interactions” to perform scientific research into interactions of bacteria with intestinal mucin proteins.
The intestinal microbiota is essential for human health, but can also cause inflammation, for example in patients that suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. We aim to understand how pathobionts or pathogens cause inflammation or epithelial invasion. Interactions between microbiota and the host take place in the mucus layer. Transmembrane mucins are receptor-like glycosylated proteins expressed on the apical surface of intestinal epithelial cells. These mucins can have barrier functions, be used utilized by pathogens for invasion and initiate signaling events. In one of our publications we described the potential hijacking of transmembrane mucin MUC1 by Salmonella and its utilization for apical invasion of intestinal epithelial cells (Li et al, PLoS Pathogens; PMC6375660).

The goal of this project is to investigate interactions of pathogens with the transmembrane mucin MUC1 and to determine the downstream signaling events. To perform infection experiments, you need to master microbiological techniques, culturing of intestinal epithelial cells and assays to determine the outcome of infection (e.g. microscopy, reporter assays, activation of signaling pathways). You will be working in a research group with a strong focus on mucosal host-microbe interactions and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Your findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals and you will present your work in the department and at international conferences. Depending on your experience, you may be responsible for the daily supervision of MSc students.

The required techniques include:

  • cell culture of cell lines, generation of knockout and overexpression cell lines;
  • microbiological techniques such as bacterial culturing and the generation of knockouts;
  • infection assays;
  • molecular techniques such as cloning, protein expression, western blotting and immunoprecipitation;
  • immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy.

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