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[ccp4bb] Postdoctoral and doctoral positions at University of Auckland

Dear colleagues:

Postdoctoral and Ph.D. positions at the School of Biological Sciences University of Auckland

We are seeking well-qualified and highly motivated candidates for the position of a postdoctoral research fellow and a doctoral student to carry out a peptide-based drug-design project involving a multi-disciplinary approach. The project targets the interaction between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone ERp44 and the collagenous hormone adiponectin. Adiponectin, abundantly and exclusively secreted from adipocytes (fat cells), exerts a wide range of beneficial functions against obesity-associated pathologies and is a potent biotherapeutic. In the ER, ERp44 tightly regulates oligomerization of trimeric adiponectin subunits that are responsible for its insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory properties. Under obesity-induced ER stress, _expression_ of ERp44 is dysregulated resulting in part to sequestration of adiponectin in ER. The concomitant reduction in serum-circulating level of adiponectin can lead to insulin resistance and type2 diabetes. We are exploring the action of rationally designed peptides that may interfere in ERp44-adiponectin interaction as a means of mitigating the onset of metabolic syndrome in obesity.

The interdisciplinary project combines rationally designed peptide synthesis, biophysical characterization of the binding of these peptides with ERp44, including X-ray crystallography, and examination of their action in cellulo and in vivo (carried out by our collaborator Prof. Yu Wang at University of HongKong) towards elevating the level of circulating adiponectin. A 3-year funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand supports this project for both the postdoctoral and the doctoral positions.  

The selected postdoctoral candidate will have prior experience in peptide synthesis, biophysical techniques to examine protein ligand interactions, recombinant protein _expression_ with an experience in Structural Biology as that involved in protein X-ray crystallography. The doctoral candidate should preferably have a background at least in one of the following disciplines: Structural Biology, biophysics or protein biochemistry.

The peptide synthesis will be carried out in an in-house state-of-the-art facility. The biophysical instrumentation suite includes ITC, DLS, Mass Spectrometry, NMR and CD. We have a modern in-house X-ray suite including two Mar detectors, cryo system and a crystallization robot. We also have direct access to the Australian Synchrotron facility.

Relevant publications:

  1. Radjainia, M, Wang, Y and Mitra, AK. Structural polymorphism of oligomeric adiponectin visualized by electron microscopy. J Mol Biol, 2008. 381(2): 419-30.
  2. Hampe, H, Radjainia, M, Xu, C, Harris, PWR, Bashiri, G, Goldstone, DC, Brimble, MA, Wang, Y, Mitra, AK. Regulation and Quality Control of Adiponectin Assembly by Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone ERp44. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2015.  290: 18111-1812.
  3. Radjainia, M, Huang, B, Bai, B, Schmitz, M, Yang, SH, Harris, PW, Griffin, MD, Brimble, M A, Wang, Y and Mitra, AK. A highly conserved tryptophan in the N-terminal variable domain regulates disulfide bond formation and oligomeric assembly of adiponectin. FEBS J, 2012. 279(14):2495-507.
  4. Harris PW, Hampe L, Radjainia M, Brimble MA, Mitra AK. An investigation of the role of the adiponectin variable domain on the stability of the collagen-like domain. Biopolymers. 2014 Jul;102(4):313-21


University of Auckland has a vibrant research environment and is the premier such Institute in New Zealand. Auckland is a multi-ethnic cosmopolitan city consistently ranked amongst the top ten cities in the world. New Zealand is well known for its scenic beauty.


For further information, please send a current CV and contact Dr. Alok K. Mitra, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. Tel: +64 09 923 8162, E.mail: a.mitra@auckland.ac.nz


Kind reagards

Alok K. Mitra, Ph.D.

School of Biological Sciences

University of Auckland

3A Symonds Street

Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 09 923 8162