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Exploring the role of meiotic proteins in cancer

Institute of Integrative Biology

About the Project

Cancer is one of the main causes of death worldwide. The main challenge is the development of treatments specifically targeting cancers without killing healthy cells. However, we have recently found a group of meiotic proteins meant to be absent in all somatic cells, to be commonly re-expressed in cancer where its presence correlates with shorter survival and more aggressive disease. At a cellular level in cancer cells synaptonemal complex (SC) proteins contribute to genetic instability. Importantly, SC members silencing abrogates growth of cancer cells but has no effect on normal fibroblasts. In oncology only a small portion of signalling pathways are therapeutically targeted. Meiotic gene re-expression appears to be a completely uncharacterised yet common event in cancer cells. An ideal target for anticancer therapeutics is present only in cancer cells, being absent in healthy cells. As SC is normally exclusively meiotic it has the potential to be a very attractive target in chemotherapy. To translate these findings into the clinic we need to fully understand the biology of SC in cancer.

TThis project will incorporate a variety of cellular and pathological methodologies including immunofluorescence of cancer cells, transformation assays, immunohistopathology of cancer tissue and cell phenotype analysis.

The project is suited to a student with at least a good B.Sc. in Biological/Medical or Life Sciences minimum.

Funding Notes

The project is open to both European/UK and International students. It is UNFUNDED and applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project.

Assistance will be given to those who are applying to international funding schemes.

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of £10,000 per year.

A fee bursary may be available for well qualified and motivated applicants.

Details of costs can be found on the University website:
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Meiosis-like Functions in Oncogenesis: A New View of Cancer. McFarlane RJ, Wakeman JA. Cancer Res. 2017 Nov 1;77(21):5712-5716.

Sandhu S, Salmon LJ, Hunter JE, Wilson CL, Perkins ND, Hunter N, Davies OR, McClurg UL (2019) A pseudo-meiotic centrosomal function of TEX12 in cancer.

Human ex vivo prostate tissue model system identifies ING3 as an oncoprotein. McClurg UL, Nabbi A, Ricordel C, Korolchuk S, McCracken S, Heer R, Wilson L, Butler LM, Irving-Hooper BK, Pedeux R, Robson CN, Riabowol KT, Binda O. Br J Cancer. 2018 Mar 6;118(5):713-726.

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