A post-doctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Harris Bernstein in the Genetics and Biochemistry Branch/NIDDK to investigate the assembly (folding and membrane integration) of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) in Gram-negative bacteria using a combination of biochemical, biophysical, and structural approaches. While most proteins that integrate into biological membranes contain alpha-helical membrane spanning segments, OMPs contain a folded “beta barrel” structure that serves as a membrane anchor. Although a heterooligomer called the barrel assembly machinery (Bam) complex has been shown to catalyze the membrane insertion of OMPs, its mechanism of action is unknown.
Our goal is to elucidate the function of the Bam complex in E. coli by examining the assembly of a variety of different model OMPs ranging from simple proteins that consist entirely of a beta barrel to more complex proteins such as “autotransporters”, a family of virulence factors produced by pathogenic bacteria, that contain a large extracellular domain in addition to a beta barrel. Because the folding and localization of OMPs is essential for viability, our work may lead to strategies to develop new antibiotics. For examples of our previous work, please see Pavlova O, et al. (2013) PNAS 110: E938-E947; Roman-Hernandez G, et al. (2014) eLife e04234; Sikdar R, et al. (2017) Nat Commun 8:1309; Hussain S and Bernstein HD (2018) J Biol Chem 293: 2959-2973; Doyle MT and Bernstein HD (2019) Nat Commun10: 3358. Additional information can also be found at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/staff-directory/biography/bernstein-harris.
Candidates should have a Ph.D. and/or M.D. degree (or anticipate receiving their degree in the near future) in molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology or a related field and should have less than 5 years of post-doctoral experience. Positions are subject to a background investigation. To apply, interested individuals should email their CV, a cover letter summarizing current and future research interests, and contact information for three references to Dr. Harris Bernstein at
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