MRes/PhD Studentship The Role of Histone Modifications in Mitosis

Reference Code: CB109


Name of the Supervisors
Professor J Higgins, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University

Duration of the Award
Four years (MRes Biosciences followed by a three-year PhD), or three year PhD if candidate has Master?s in relevant subject.

Project Description
A key aim of our research programme is to understand the function of histone modifications in cell division. To divide productively, cells must accomplish at least two things. First, they must accurately segregate their chromosomes to ensure that the genetic material is properly inherited. Second, they must pass gene expression patterns to their daughters so that cell lineage can be preserved or reprogrammed.

Histone modifications, which regulate the association and dissociation of mitotic regulators and transcription factors from chromosomes, are critical for these events [1]. For example, we recently showed that a specific histone phosphorylation recruits the Aurora B complex to centromeres, where it acts to ensure correct chromosome segregation [2], and histone phosphorylation also regulates the chromosomal association of transcription factors in mitosis [3]. We will use state-of-the-art biochemical, cell and molecular biology techniques, next-generation sequencing and live cell imaging to determine how known and novel histone kinases regulate chromosome segregation and help gene expression patterns to be ?remembered? or reprogrammed during cell division.

1. Wang, F., Higgins, J.M.G. (2013) Histone Modifications and Mitosis: Countermarks, Landmarks and Bookmarks. Trends Cell Biol. 23:175-184

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2. Wang, F., Dai, J., Daum, J.R., Niedzialkowska, E., Banerjee, B., Stukenberg, P.T., Gorbsky, G.J., Higgins, J.M.G. (2010) Histone H3 Thr-3 phosphorylation by Haspin positions Aurora B at centromeres in mitosis. Science 330:231-235

3. Varier, R.A., Outchkourov, N.S., de Graaf, P., van Schaik, F.M.A., Ensing, H.J.L., Wang, F., Higgins, J.M.G., Kops, G.J.P.L., Timmers, H.Th.M. (2010) A phospho/methyl switch at histone H3 regulates TFIID association with mitotic chromosomes. EMBO J. 29:3967-78

Value of the Award and Eligibility
The award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend in line with Research Council rate (currently ?13,726).

Person Specification
Candidates should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper-second-class Honours degree in a relevant science subject.

How to apply
You must complete the University’s postgraduate application form selecting ?Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) ? Cell and Molecular Biosciences? as the programme of study. Please insert the code CB109 in the studentship/partnership reference field. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) but you must attach a copy of your CV and a covering letter, quoting the title of the studentship and reference number CB109.

Closing Date for Applications
Prompt application is advised as this post is only available until a suitable candidate is appointed.

Further Information
For further details, please contact:
Professor Jonathan Higgins
E-mail: or
Telephone: +1 617 525 1101

Please click on the ‘Apply‘ button below.

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