Postdoctoral position available in the group of Latifa Elantak at the CNRS-LISM laboratory in Marseille, France

Research and aim of the project

To survive in their environments, interact with their host during infection and create complex communities, bacteria have evolved a wide range of sophisticated surface nanomachines (e.g flagella, secretion systems and surface pili). Among them, a family called Type-IV Pili (Tfp) is particularly widespread in bacteria and play key roles in promoting adhesion to host cells, the import of extracellular DNA (competence), Kin recognition and cell motility (Twitching). Tfp machines assemble in the multilayered cell envelope and commonly work via the action of ATPases that extend/retract µm-long pilin filaments, which can attach to a large variety of surfaces and substrates. In recent years, much progress has been made to determine the architecture of the two Tfp family member (Tfpa and Tfpb) at the molecular level. However, rather little is known on the mechanisms that activate Tfps function.

The project, funded by the French National Research Agency, aims to decipher the molecular basis of type IV pili activation using advanced multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches including solution NMR spectroscopy. The postdoctoral researcher recruited will contribute to the NMR structural characterization of the interactions involving a key protein factor identified as essential to activate and enable Twitching motility in the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus (Refs 1 & 2).

-Bautista S, Schmidt V, Guiseppi A, Mauriello EMF, Attia B, Elantak L, Mignot T, Mercier R. FrzS acts as a polar beacon to recruit SgmX, a central activator of type IV pili during Myxococcus xanthus motility. EMBO J. 2023 Jan 4;42(1):e111661.

2-Mercier R, Bautista S, Delannoy M, Gibert M, Guiseppi A, Herrou J, Mauriello EMF, Mignot T. The polar Ras-like GTPase MglA activates type IV pilus via SgmX to enable twitching motility in Myxococcus xanthus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Nov 10;117(45):28366-28373.


The candidate will hold a PhD in structural biology with strong experience in biomolecular NMR. More specifically, he/she will be in charge of protein production using different isotopic labeling schemes, and analysis and interpretation of NMR spectra. The candidate will also demonstrate excellent communication skills, ability to work in a team and integrate easily, and organizational skills.

Duration and starting date

The grant is for two years. The starting date is November 2023, with some flexibility.

Research environment

The candidate will work in the group of Latifa Elantak at the CNRS LISM laboratory in Marseille. Marseille is a center for research in Life Sciences and a beautiful city in the south of France, by the Mediterranean Sea.The group has access to a 600 MHz (Avance III, cryoprobe) spectrometer but also to higher field spectrometers through the Infranalytics network ( The LISM laboratory is part of the Mediterranean Microbiology Institute which offers an innovative and scientifically stimulating environment with access to 28 core facilities (, including equipment for structural biology, protein production and biochemistry, molecular biology and imaging.


To apply for this position, please send your CV, a detailed motivation letter and the names of two referees using the following link: CNRS job portal

Best regards,

Latifa Elantak

-- Latifa Elantak, PhD, HDR Group leader CNRS Laboratoire d'ingénierie des systèmes macromoléculaires (LISM - UMR7255) 31 Chemin Joseph Aiguier CS70071 - 13402 Marseille cedex 9 FRANCE +33 4 91 16 44 53 -