MICALs (Molecules Interacting with CasL) are a family of unique signalling molecules that directly bind and disassemble actin filaments and are known to play essential roles in cell processes requiring discrete changes in the cytoskeleton. In a collapsing axon growth cone, MICALs provide a direct link between semaphorins, plexins and the F-actin collapse. Our efforts are focused on the structural biology and molecular mechanisms of MICAL signalling in cytoskeletal dynamics. Questions that are currently of high interest in the lab are how MICALs precisely turn their activity on and off, and how MICAL activity sculpts the actin cytoskeleton.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and talented PhD student to join the Structural Neurobiology Group at the Department of Cell Biology. The work will be based at a new research centre, Biocev, which houses scientists of international repute in related fields and provides a broad range of frontline structural biology techniques.

As a PhD student, you will aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of MICAL activation and autoinhibition. You will use cryo-electron microscopy and protein crystallography that will be further combined with biophysical and cellular experiments. Furthermore, you will build key oral and written communication skills, techniques for open science, and how to lead collaborative research projects. The project will give you opportunities to present your findings at scientific meetings. Our group has a strong commitment to both personal and professional development, and you will be encouraged to develop your own ideas within the scope of the group's interests and build your academic profile.

You should hold or, be near completion of a master's degree in biochemistry, structural biology, or related discipline, and have hands-on experience in techniques relevant to the project. Particularly useful would be the experience of protein production and purification, plasmids construction, cell culture, protein crystallography or electron microscopy. Good communication and writing skills are essential.

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2. Rozbesky et. al. Structure. 28: 507-515 (2020)

3. Mehta et al. Nature. 578: 290-295 (2020)

4. Rozbesky et al. Nat Commun. 10: 3691-3703 (2019)

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