Thesis subject

Design and production of adhesive polypeptides

At WUR-FBR & WUR-PCC we use biotechnology to design and produce new structural polypeptides for use in high tech biomedical and biotechnological applications such as tissue culture, nano-sized vehicles for drug delivery, new sequencing technologies, and coatings of man-made materials that need to interface with living cells, tissues, body fluids etc. We take inspiration from structural proteins present in nature (collagen, keratin, elastin etc.) in order to create new polypeptide materials with special properties. Design of the molecules starts in silico. We combine sequences from genes encoding for structural proteins and adapt these for our own purposes. Using genetic engineering, we create synthetic genes that are used to produce new types of functional recombinant polypeptides.

In this particular project, you have the opportunity to start a new research line that will allow us to use our polypeptides in many more applications: by developing polypeptides with adhesion functionality, we can transform solid surfaces such as plastics and metals into bioactive surfaces that are antimicrobial, that bind certain cell types, that bind certain biomolecules, etc. Such new polypeptides can become very important, for example in the molecular biosensor field, or for coating biomedical materials such as implants.

We offer an opportunity to learn how to:

  • Write scientific proposals, plans for experiments and scientific reports
  • Use information from biological databases for the in silico design of new genes
  • Do molecular cloning, and protein expression
  • Work with bioreactors
  • Purify and test the functionality of recombinant polypeptides
  • Learn how to test adhesion of polymers to solid surfaces

We are asking for a highly motivated MSc student:

  • Enrolled in the Biotechnology / Molecular Life Sciences program
  • Preferably with prior experience with PCR, cloning, SDS-PAGE, fermentation, bioinformatics
  • With a  pro-active attitude, and a hands-on mentality !