Effector-Effector Interplay and Coxiella Pathogenesis

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 18-24 months at University of Toronto.

Project Description:

The bacterium responsible for Q fever, Coxiella burnetii, causes disease by replicating to high numbers inside human cells. In order to achieve this Coxiella has evolved to become an innovative cell biologist. The pathogen establishes a replicative vacuole inside human cells by injecting virulence proteins, termed effectors, into the host to manipulate a variety of host functions. To date, ~150 effectors have been identified yet we understand very little about how they function individually and as a collective cohort during infection. The traditional understanding of bacterial effector proteins is that they act on host targets however we are developing a compelling body of evidence to demonstrate that some effectors influence infection by acting on other effectors. This post-translocation level of effector regulation is an unexplored yet integral component of understanding host-pathogen interactions.

This project will use a systems-based approach to define physical interactions between important effector proteins, determine the role these interactions play during infection and use cell biology and biochemical approaches to decipher the function of interacting effectors. The research will shed light on Coxiella pathogenesis and the complex cross-talk between the large cohort of effector proteins.

Supervision Team:

Dr Hayley Newton (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Alexander Ensminger (University of Toronto)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read theĀ application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.