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Signal Perception and Activation of the Alphaproteobacterial General Stress Response

The general stress response (GSR) is a widely conserved response in bacteria to cope with a multitude of environmental stresses. Although physiologically described in Alphaproteobacteria a long time ago, the underlying molecular mechanisms have remained obscure. Recently, the PhyR/NepR/SigmaEcfG cascade has been identified as the core pathway regulating the GSR in essentially all Alphaproteobacteria, including important pathogens and symbionts. The core system is composed of the sigma factor EcfG, its anti-sigma factor NepR and the anti-sigma factor antagonist PhyR. The three proteins function in a partner switching mechanism: in absence of stress, sigma EcfG is sequestered by NepR; stressful conditions lead to PhyR phosphorylation, allowing its interaction with NepR and thus the release of sigma EcfG. PhyR uses a sigmaEcfG-like domain to interact with NepR and the mechanism was coined "sigma factor mimicry". The aim of the project is the characterization of the signal perception and transduction that leads to the activation of this crucial stress response regulatory system using biochemical, genetic and state of the art omics technologies.
For further information please contact:
Prof. Dr. Julia Vorholt 
Institute of Microbiology
ETH Zurich
Email: vorholt@micro.biol.ethz.ch
Campagne et al. (2014) Structural basis for promoter -10 element specificity during bacterial transcription reprogramming. Nature Struct. Mol. Biology 21:269-278.
Campagne et al. (2012) Structural basis for sigma factor mimicry in the general stress response of Alphaproteobacteria. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 109:E1405-14.
Kaczmarczyk et al. (2011) The PhyR-NepR-SigmaEcfG cascade in Sphingomonas sp. FR1: role in general stress response and identification of a negative regulator of PhyR. J. Bacteriol. 193:6629-38
Francez-Charlot, Frunzke et al. (2009) Sigma factor mimicry involved in regulation of general stress response. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:3467-3472.

Contact detail

How to apply:
For further information please contact: J. Vorholt, vorholt@micro.biol.ethz.ch
Send application to
Prof. Dr. Julia Vorholt 
Institute of Microbiology
ETH Zurich
Email: vorholt@micro.biol.ethz.ch


Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Switzerland (Zürich)
Working place
8093 Zürich
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences