This is one of several projects available on an MRC funded 4-year multi-disciplinary PhD programme in Human Genetics, Genomics and Disease at the MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU), part of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh.
The cGAS-STING pathway senses cytoplasmic DNA to identify and combat microbial pathogens, while strict compartmentalisation of our own DNA in the nucleus prevents autoimmunity. We recently established that our own DNA can activate this pathway after DNA damage, when cGAS detects micronuclei. This has implications for how cells may detect early cancer-inducing events, and for how DNA damage could lead to inflammation (Mackenzie et al, Nature 2017). This PhD aims to build on these findings, addressing whether this pathway opposes cancer formation in vivo, if there are other processes that deliver DNA to the cytoplasm, and why cGAS is not activated during normal mitosis.