Studying gene regulation using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans
This project aims to characterise the biological roles of CtBP, a protein implicated in control of cell death and cancer metastasis, and to identify the molecules that function with CtBP to regulate gene expression.
Caenorhabditis elegans is a microscopic worm that is used by over 400 labs around the world as a model organism. Despite the obvious differences between ourselves and worms, we in fact have much in common. For instance, C. elegans and human cells use many of the same signaling pathways and about 80% of C. elegans genes have human homologues. These similarities mean that many of the discoveries that are made about the molecular biology of worms are also applicable to human biology and genetic diseases. We aim to gain a better understanding of a basic molecular process, the regulation of gene expression, using C. elegans. The PhD project will focus on a transcriptional cofactor called CtBP, which has been implicated in fundamental disease processes including apoptosis and oncogenesis. This protein is recruited to DNA by interactions with transcription factors, and its recruitment usually results in decreased gene expression. Investigations on the in vivo functions of CtBP using fluorescent reporter genes, knockouts and RNA interference will be complemented by mutagenesis screens and gene mapping to discover factors that cooperate with, regulate or mediate the activity of CtBP. Understanding the molecular and biological roles of the CtBPs is the first step to being able to manipulate their activities for therapeutic purposes.
Techniques: In addition to standard molecular biological techniques, this project will involve worm transformation by microinjection, phenotypic analysis by microscopy and genetic mapping using both visible markers and SNPs.
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The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 98