CeNS Center for NanoScience LMU Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
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PhD Position – Single Molecule Mechanics of Chaperones

Project: Proteins are dynamic nano-machines that form spontaneously in solution from an amino-acid polymer chain and can perform amazing tasks in our body. In our group, we have developed single molecule methods that allow to grab an individual protein molecule and observe the self-assembly and disassembly of this machine under mechanical forces. In this PhD project, you will study the dynamics of a molecular chaperone. Chaperones are ATP driven protein machines that assist other proteins in their folding. The chaperone will be held by two DNA strands coupled to micron sized glass beads that are held in an optical tweezer. In this project you will learn how to mutate and express proteins, how to perform and design single molecule optical tweezers experiments. Analysis of the complex data using Hidden Markov Models is also an important part of this project. The project is at the boundary between physics and biochemistry.

Requirements: The applicant should hold a degree in biophysics, physics, biochemistry or a related subject. Willingness to work in a highly interdisciplinary environment is essential.


1.         Zoldak G, Stigler J, Pelz B, Li H, Rief M Ultrafast folding kinetics and cooperativity of villin headpiece in single-molecule force spectroscopy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013;45:18156-18161

2.         Zoldak G, Rief M Force as a single molecule probe of multidimensional protein energy landscapes. Curr Opin Struct Biol 2013;1:48-57

3.         Stigler J, Ziegler F, Gieseke A, Gebhardt JC, Rief M The complex folding network of single calmodulin molecules. Science 2011;6055:512-516

Group: Prof. Matthias Rief, Department of Physics, TU Munich

Prof. Rief's website