Control of mitosis by calcium in mammalian cells

   Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology

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  Dr Lee Haynes, Dr N Helassa  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Mitosis is the highly controlled division of cells to produce two new daughters. It is responsible for most of the growth that occurs in humans and errors in mitosis can lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation and cancer. Understanding how mitosis is controlled is therefore a fundamental goal of cell biology. There are many layers of regulation involved in ensuring the fidelity of cell division and it seems likely that even more are yet to be discovered. This project will investigate the role of calcium signalling during mitosis and cytokinesis (the process that immediately follows mitosis and physically separates the two new cells) in mammalian cells. Model organisms have provided evidence that calcium is important during mitosis but, in mammalian cells, the data is less clear. This could be because the calcium signals are small, very fast, or both and this makes them difficult to detect. This project will investigate mitotic calcium signals using genetically encoded calcium sensors fused to proteins with known functions during mitosis. The idea is to localise a high-affinity calcium sensor in a very specific part of the diving cell and ask the question, can this detect calcium? We have successfully applied this approach to identify a centrosomal calcium signal in mammalian cells [1] and now want to fully map mitotic calcium with a range of new targeted sensors developed specifically for this project. Any novel calcium signals will be functionally tested to understand how they control mitosis and reveal new insights into how our cells divide.

The project will employ standard laboratory techniques including cell culture and transfection, lentiviral transduction of stable cell lines, cloning procedures, SDS PAGE and Western blotting. In addition, it will provide training in state-of-the-art confocal microscopy and image analysis. The student will be supported by an enthusiastic and multidisciplinary research team with wide-ranging interests in calcium signalling biology, working within the Institute of Systems Molecular and Integrative Biology, providing access to world-class training and facilities. 

For any enquiries and to express your interest in applying, please contact Dr Lee Haynes on [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Suitable for self-funded students only
Tuition fees (full-time): UK students £4,500/year; Overseas applicants £24,250/year (2021 fees)
A £2000 ISMIB Travel and Training Support Grant may be available to new self-funded applicants


Helassa, N., et al., A centrosome-localized calcium signal is essential for mammalian cell mitosis. FASEB J, 2019. 33(12): p. 14602-14610.

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