Motion is intrinsic in life. Life moves at all its scales from full organisms several meters long to the smallest nanometer sized proteins, membranes or DNA. Life combines all its molecules in a complex choreography which provides a vast variety of functions from a limited number of individual players (as the ‘human genome project’ has put forward).
Despite the importance of motion at the smallest scales of biology, the study of motion has been absent from molecular biology studies because the biologists in order to gain resolution have been forced to extract and immobilize the biological molecules from their natural environment.
Over the recent years a new technique, the atomic force microscope (AFM), has come into play in the structural biology field, this technique enables high resolution imaging under functional biological conditions in physiological buffer and in room temperature, furthermore the extraordinary signal-to-noise ration of the AFM allows the direct observation of the disposition of supramolecular assemblies of membrane proteins in native prokaryotic and eukaryotic membranes with a lateral resolution of ~10Å and a vertical resolution of ~1Å. Consequently the AFM has a
great potential for studying the dynamics of supramolecular assemblies. The only limiting factor has been the slow imaging rate of AFM of several minutes per frame; far too slow for observing the dynamics of molecular biology.
Now a new generation of AFM, the High Speed AFM (HS-AFM) has been developed capable of imaging speeds of few milliseconds per frame. The HS-AFM will finally open the door of the studies of the dynamics of molecular and supramolecular biology and to provide the direct assessment of structure/function relationships.
Our team based at the ‘Institut Curie’ with a high expertise in the field of high-resolution AFM imaging of membrane proteins is now looking for motivated PhD students candidates which want contribute to our HS-AFM projects. Candidates with physics, nano-science and bio-physics background would fit best the profile.
Granting for the candidate will be furnished by the programme C'Nano IdF
The ‘Institute Curie’ is an internationally renowned research institute in the heart of Paris. For further information please see: http://www.curie.fr/equipe/317/lang/_gb