Thesis subject

Stretching single-stranded DNA

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.

We have recently designed a recombinant polypeptide that combines a folded domain that binds DNA with a long flexible hydrophilic block. We expect that these diblock polypeptides will completely prevent re-naturation of DNA since the protein coats each of the two halves of the DNA double helix after melting.....Together with a nanotechnology group at the National University of Singapore we are exploring whether the coated, single stranded DNA's can be stretched in nanopores, in order to be sequenced using new single-molecule sequencing technologies. In this particular project, you have the opportunity to prepare for such new sequencing technology by finding out whether the new polypeptide can indeed prevent renaturation by coating each of the two halves of the DNA double helix.

We offer an opportunity to learn how to:

  •  Write scientific proposals, plans for experiments and scientific reports
  • Work with DNA-protein complexes
  • Do Atomic Force Microscopy of single protein-DNA complexes

We are asking for a highly motivated MSc student:

  •   Enrolled in the Biotechnology / Molecular Life Sciences program
  • A wide range of scientific interests (Soft Matter science, sequencing technology, protein-DNA interactions, recombinant DNA technology,...)