Fully Funded Studentship Microtubules and associated proteins in epithelial remodelling and cancer invasion

Research Keywords:
Cancer/Oncology, Cell Biology/Development, Molecular Biology


28 February 2013. Applications are processed as soon as they are received, so early application is encouraged.

Supervisory Team:
Primary: Dr Mette M Mogensen
Secondary: Dr Jelena Gavrilovic

The Project:
Polarised differentiation of epithelial cells is critical for their normal function and loss of polarity is a major factor in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and conversion to an invasive cancer state. It is well known that epithelial cell polarisation is dependent on relatively stable apico-basal microtubule arrays whereas loss of these arrays and dynamic microtubules are required for EMT and cell migration. Epithelial remodelling occurs during early stages of EMT when a cell switches from an apico-basal polarised to a migratory phenotype and this is associated with dramatic changes in microtubule dynamics and organisation. However, relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating microtubule dynamics and reorganisation during EMT. We have recently identified a microtubule associated protein that when overexpressed stimulates epithelial remodelling and migration. Our preliminary data show that overexpression of this protein in 3D MDCKII matrigel cultures leads to basal cell protrusions and formation of cell aggregates rather than cyst. The aims of this project are to use 3D in vitro cultures and invasion assays that mimic the in vivo epithelial architecture and migration conditions to analyse the role of this and related microtubule associated proteins in microtubule dynamics and reorganisation during epithelial remodelling in order to better understand the process of EMT. We will use a combination of 3D in vitro epithelial cyst and invasion models together with GFP- and RNAi-technology and immuno-labelling in conjunction with high-resolution widefield fluorescence, confocal, multi-photon and live time-lapse microscopy to pursue these aims. The findings from this proposal will advance our understanding of epithelial remodelling and potentially identify novel drug targets for treatment of highly invasive cancers.

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Funding will cover home/EU fees only. Overseas students will be required to pay the difference between home/EU and overseas fees.

Entry Requirements:
A first or upper second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in Biological Sciences or Natural Sciences majoring in Biology.

Making Your Application: Please apply via the University’s online application system via the Apply button below. To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: pgr.enquiries.admiss@uea.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709.


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