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EPSRC PhD Studentship

Engineering orthogonal ribosomes as a platform for programmable protein modification

Proteins act as the core molecular machines within living cells and underpin crucial tasks spanning the coordination of metabolism to the self-assembly of structural cytoskeletal components. Many of these diverse functions can be tailored by post-translational modifications of the protein involved (e.g. myristoylation is known to be used for the dynamic control of membrane targeting and protein-protein interactions). However, ensuring that a desired set of modifications is applied to a specific protein of interest is challenging as they often occur post-translationally making their targeting difficult.

To overcome this issue, in this EPSRC-funded project the student will develop orthogonal ribosomes that can be targeted to specific messenger RNAs not recognized by the host cell and allow for the attachment of engineered enzymes that can support the modification of nascent protein chains as translation occurs. To engineer the orthogonal ribosomes the student will employ high-throughput screening approaches using nanopore sequencing to understand the design constraints of the ribosome, and modifying enzyme attachments will be rationally designed using a new protein design tool called Elfin. This project is a rare opportunity to work on emerging technologies for accelerated genetic design with the Biocompute Lab (Thomas Gorochowski) and next-generation protein engineering tools with the Protein Design Lab (Fabio Parmeggiani), as well as join the vibrant biodesign community at the University of Bristol.

The online application form will soon go live, but in the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the project please contact Thomas Gorochowski (


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