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Originally I started doing a PhD with Prof. Colin Robinson (Biological Sciences) and Prof. Nigel Burroughs (Mathematics). The title of my PhD was 'Membrane protein biogenesis in cyanobacteria' and I was looking at protein transportation in Synechocystis PCC 6803 using confocal microscopy. The aim was to tag proteins with green fluorescent protein (GFP) and then use fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to get time dependent data, which would be analysed mathematically, hopefully leading to a mathematical model of protein transport in Synechocystis. I succeeded in tagging several proteins with GFP and expressed them in vivo. However, when we started to do FRAP experiments we experienced problems with the auto-fluorescence emitted by the Synechocystis which we were unable to resolve. This meant I had to change direction and develop a new project.

As part of my original project I concentrated on the twin-arginine translocase (Tat) pathway in Synechocystis. In Escherichia coli the Tat pathway involves three proteins, TatA, TatB and TatC. TatA forms a spectrum of complexes, ranging from under 100 kDa to over 500 kDa1. I will be looking at E. coli TatA to try and determine how the TatA complexes are formed, and how they are involved in the translocation process. I will be doing this using a variety of biophysical techniques in the Chemistry department, with Dr. Ann Dixon joining Prof. Colin Robinson as my new supervisor.

1Joanne Oates, Claire M.L. Barrett, James P. Barnett, Katheryne G. Byrne, Albert Bolhuis and Colin Robinson, The Escherichia coli Twin-arginine Translocation Apparatus Incorporates a Distinct Form of TatABC Complex, Spectrum of Modular TatAComplexes and Minor TatAB Complex, Journal of Molecular Biology, Volume 346, Issue 1,11 February 2005, Pages 295-305.

The members of my advisory committee are Prof. Timothy Bugg (Chemistry), Dr. Lorenzo Frigerio (Biological Sciences) and Dr. Matthew Turner (Physics).