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University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes

(BBSRC DTP) Using markers of gene evolutionary age to identify function within gene regulatory networks related to embryo implantation

Project Description

Successful implantation relies upon synchrony between a competent blastocyst and receptive endometrium. Molecular networks mediating these events at implantation are not well understood in humans. However, tracing back the evolutionary origin of modifications that occurred in these networks and pinpointing human-specific changes could provide further insight.

We have recent data to suggesting that the interactome of the endometrial surface is enriched for evolutionarily older genes but that the embryonic compartment (epiblast) is enriched for genes related to more recent human evolution. Subpopulations of the trophectoderm, the layer surrounding the epiblast, demonstrated a strong relationship with human specific evolutionary markers. Little is known about the function of these trophectoderm subpopulations.

Specifically we will:

1. Generate single cell RNAseq data using endometrial organoid models of implantation to characterise the implantation interactome and define the existence of associated cell subpopulations.
2. Perform a multi-level integrated ‘omic analysis of embryo implantation combining transcriptomic with proteomic data and epigenomic data.
3. Use our integrated model of multi-omic interactions occurring during implantation as a basis to assess the impact of recent human evolution.

The identification of the impact of recent human evolution on the implantation process will identify pathways with specific functional relevance to this process. This will provide insight into developmental windows of environmental vulnerability in early life and form a key step in understanding the implantation process.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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