Topics for Master theses


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O-glycosylation of nuclear proteins in plants

O-glycosylation of cytosolic and nuclear proteins is an important post-translational modification that regulates the molecular function of a large number of proteins. We are interested in understanding the basic principles of how this modification is regulated in plants, and its effects on specific target proteins.
We are currently looking for a Master student to analyse how O-fucoslyation and O-GlcNAcylation affect protein-interactions of a specific transcription factor. The work for this project includes transient expression in tobacco leaves, co-immunoprecipitation and O-glycosylation assays. If you are interested or want to know more about the topic, please contact us!

Contact: Doris Lucyshyn  e-mail

Characterization of antibody-degrading serine proteases of Nicotiana benthamiana

Plant-based expression platforms are increasingly used for the production of recombinant biotherapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies. However, the expression of monoclonal antibodies in plants is frequently accompanied by unwanted proteolysis. This is also the case for Nicotiana benthamiana, a tobacco-related plant species emerging as a rapid and versatile expression host for complex proteins. This MSc thesis project aims at the recombinant expression and biochemical characterization of N. benthamiana serine proteases potentially involved in antibody degradation. 

Contact: Lukas Mach  e-mail

Expression and glycan engineering of recombinant antibodies

Master Thesis in the field of molecular biotechnology: IgG antibodies are a success-story in medical biotechnology. IgGs are glycoproteins and it is well known that glycosylation impacts IgG functionalities. The aim of the master thesis is to produce and biochemically characterize IgG subclass antibodies with specific glycosylation profiles.

To study the role of glycans on IgG antibodies it is necessary to produce molecules with defined glycan profiles, a challenging issue. The team of Prof. Steinkellner has developed a glyco-engineering approach that allows the rapid expression of proteins with targeted glycan-structures. Appointed students find an excellent infrastructure for efficiently carry out experiments. For immunological studies a cooperation with immunologists at University of Erlangen (Dt) is established.

Tasks:

  • expression of IgGs (subclass1-4) in glycoengineered plants (expression vectors are available)
  • IgG purification (automated chromatography)
  • Mass spectrometric based glycan analyses
  • Biochemical characterisation of IgG (HPLC, immunoblotting)

Start: Spring/Summer 2018 Duration: 6 months
after 2 months: financial support ~400 €/months

Contact: Herta Steinkellner  e-mail

Subcellular Mechanisms of Cellular Elongation

The research focus of our group is the regulation of plant growth and development. We are particularly interested in subcellular mechanisms that control cellular elongation. In this master thesis the respective candidate will address how the cell organelles, such as the vacuole, control cell size. We are looking for a motivated student who is willing to work on this project, using state of the art cell biological and molecular methods. The candidate will particularly use high-resolution microscopy, molecular cloning and developmental genetics to advance our current knowledge on cell size determination. If you are interested do not hesitate to contact us!

Contact: Kai Dünser  e-mail

Phosphorylation of the PILS putative auxin facilitator family

The focus of our group is plant growth and development. The plant hormone auxin plays a central role in these processes. We are looking for a motivated student who is interested in a project on the PILS putative auxin facilitator family at the endoplasmic reticulum. The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana will be used to study the importance of PILS proteins in auxin-dependent plant development. The work will include molecular cloning, protein purification, Western Blot, microscopy and plant work. If you are interested or want to know more about the master project, do not hesitate to contact us!

Contact: Sascha Waidmann  e-mail

Metal ion induced signaling mechanisms of plants

Cell walls do not only protect the cell but serves also as signaling platform between the extracellular environment and the intracellular physiology. We are interested in the molecular analysis of cell wall associated receptor kinases which are involved in metal ion sensing. By using molecular genetics, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and cell biological approaches this project aims to uncover the role of a class of receptor kinases in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Keywords: cell wall, kinases, signal transduction, cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead, copper

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail

Pectin methylation changes upon metal ion exposure

The pectin component, homogalacturonan (HG), is synthesized and incorporated in the cell wall in a highly methylesterified form. Upon demethylation HG establishes intramolecular calcium/metal ion bridges, the so-called egg-box structures important for cell wall stiffening. This project tackles the role of HGs in heavy metal ion capturing and sensing using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and molecular genetics, cell biological and biochemical approaches.   

Keywords: cell wall, pectin, signal transduction, heavy metals, trace elements, cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead, copper

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail 

Regulation of translation upon abiotic stress exposure in plants

Major efforts were invested in studying transcriptional regulation upon abiotic stresses while understanding of the regulation of protein synthesis is lagging behind. Comparative genomic and proteomic analyses have shown that mRNA and protein levels do not correlate perfectly, highlighting the important contribution of translational control and protein stability to gene expression. This project employs a novel method in combination with genetics to identify regulators of translation which are important for abiotic stress responses.

Keywords: UV-B, heavy metals, protein synthesis, translation initiation factors  

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail 

Epigenetic regulation of the ribosomal RNA              

Transcriptome-wide analyses have shown that RNA modifications occur on all major classes of RNA including ribosomal RNA. Recently a member of an evolutionarily conserved family of methyltransferases has been identified in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana which is responsible to methylate the 25S rRNA of the large ribosomal subunit. With the help of genetic and molecular biological analyses the project analyses the dynamics of rRNA methylation during development and in response to abiotic stressors and aims to reveal the functional role of this epigenetic modification on the translational efficiency, growth and fecundity. 

Keywords: UV-B, heavy metals, protein synthesis, rRNA, RNA methylation, methyltransferases 

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail 

Effect of metal ions on the epigenome of plants 

Plants are sessile organisms and cannot escape adverse environmental conditions as for example the increase of heavy metals and trace elements in soils due to air pollution but also heavy use of fertilizers and fungicides. In this project the impact on the epigenome should be analyzed upon chronic exposure to elevated concentrations of metal ions. Quantitative gene expression analyses will be combined with experiments using epigenetically silenced reporter lines of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.      

Keywords: cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead, copper, DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, small RNA expression, gene silencing

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail

Molecular characterization of a cell wall associated kinase involved in heavy metal sensing

Phytoremediation, the extraction of heavy metals and other contaminates through plants might be a cost effective method to restore metal polluted soils. We have isolated a heavy metal induced cell wall associated kinase of a heavy metal tolerant willow. To characterize its function we transferred this gene fused with a fluorescing protein gene to the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. To characterize the protein domains necessary for the cell wall association and triggering heavy metal responses, microscopic analyses (CLSM) will be employed combined with cell fractionations and Western blots. Since it is anticipated that the project needs many hours on high end confocal laser scanning microscopes only students should take this project which love microscopy. 

Keywords: Microscopy, Western blot, heavy metals

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail 

Molecular characterization of a cell wall associated kinase involved in heavy metal sensing

Phytoremediation, the extraction of heavy metals and other contaminates through plants might be a cost effective method to restore metal polluted soils. We have isolated a heavy metal induced cell wall associated kinase of a heavy metal tolerant willow. To characterize its function we transferred this gene fused with a fluorescing protein gene to the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. To characterize the protein domains necessary for the cell wall association and triggering heavy metal responses, microscopic analyses (CLSM) will be employed combined with cell fractionations and Western blots. Since it is anticipated that the project needs many hours on high end confocal laser scanning microscopes only students should take this project which love microscopy. 

Keywords: Microscopy, Western blot, heavy metals

Contact: Marie-Theres Hauser  e-mail 

Epigenetic control of fungal secondary metabolism

The role of H4K20 methylation in Aspergillus nidulans
Fungi are known to produce a plethora of secondary metabolites (SMs) with toxic and carcinogenic properties, while others are used as antoibiotics and other medicinal drugs. One important regulatory layer in SM biosynthesis involves histone modifications, which define the amounts and timing of SM gene expression. The master student will elucidate the role of histone methylation (H4K20me) on fungal development and SM biosynthesis in the model organism Aspergillus nidulans by employing general mycology methods, reverse and molecular genetics and state-of-the-art technologies, such as Chromatin Immunoprecipitation. The master thesis will be carried out in the lab of Prof. Dr. Strauss at the BOKU Campus in Tulln (train connection from U4/U6, ~ 20min. ride to Tulln).

Allgemeine Information: Die „Abteilung Mikrobielle Genetik & Pathogen-Interaktionen“ bietet die Möglichkeit am Standort Tulln eine Masterarbeit durchzuführen. Für den Zeitraum der Masterarbeit (6 Monate) wird eine Reisekostenentschädigung Wien-Tulln angeboten. Arbeitszeit über die Masterarbeit hinaus wird im Rahmen einer Anstellung als studentische/r Mitarbeiter/in abgegolten.

Start: möglich ab Dezember 2016
Bewerber/innen sollten die wichtigsten mikrobiologischen und molekularbiologischen Techniken aus Praktika kennen.

Contact: Lena Studt  e-mail

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