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MSc by Research (Minimal Mobile Elements in Neisseria)

Kingston University

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Course Description

This Self funded M.Sc. project will expand upon previous investigations into Minimal Mobile Elements in the Neisseria spp, to include Neisseria meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and commensal species such as Neisseria lactamica. Minimal Mobile Elements play a role in horizontal gene transfer and integration through homologous recombination between conserved protein-encoding genes that flank exchangeable gene cassettes. 40 different MME sites have been identified in Neisseria (Saunders and Snyder, Microbiol, 2002 Snyder et al., BMC Genomics, 2004 Snyder et al., Plasmid, 2005 Snyder and Saunders, BMC Genomics, 2006 Bentley et al., PLoS Genetics, 2007 Snyder et al., Mol Biol Evol, 2007). There is demonstrated variation in the gene cassettes present at each site between different species and strains. No studies have yet addressed the phenotypic differences that may be attributed to gene cassette exchange in the Minimal Mobile Elements as a whole. The types of genes present and combinations of genes present will be investigated, making use of the increasing amount of genome sequence data available for these bacteria. This study will involve whole genome sequence analysis and comparative genome sequence analysis to identify Minimal Mobile Elements. Many of the sequences to be analyzed will be incomplete and unannotated, therefore the student must have the patience and prokaryotic genetics knowledge to correctly annotate sequences and identify previously undiscovered Minimal Mobile Elements. Laboratory-based aspects of the project will involve functional studies of the gene cassettes believed to contribute to phenotypic differences between species and strains. A passionate interest in microbiology, genomics, and molecular genetics is required. Student will be expected to produce written pieces of work of publication quality. Relevant references: The repertoire of minimal mobile elements in the Neisseria species and evidence that these are involved in horizontal gene transfer in other bacteria. Snyder LA, McGowan S, Rogers M, Duro E, O'Farrell E, Saunders NJ. Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Dec24(12):2802-15. The minimal mobile element. Saunders NJ, Snyder LA. Microbiology. 2002 Dec148(Pt 12):3756-60.

This Self funded M.Sc. project will expand upon previous investigations into Minimal Mobile Elements in the Neisseria spp, to include Neisseria meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and commensal species such as Neisseria lactamica. Minimal Mobile Elements play a role in horizontal gene transfer and integration through homologous recombination between conserved protein-encoding genes that flank...

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