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Investigating the role of lysine methylation in the DNA damage response.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Higgs
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Our genomic DNA is under constant attack from DNA damaging agents, which are a continuing threat to genomic integrity. Defective resolution of DNA damage underlies several human diseases, including haematopoietic abnormalities and developmental disorders as well as cancer. To counteract this, multiple DNA damage response (DDR) proteins act to combat replication stress and prevent cellular transformation, by detecting DNA damage, activating cell cycle checkpoints, and promoting the repair/resolution of DNA lesions. The activity of these factors is controlled by a complex network of post-translational modifications.

My group is interested in a particular post-translational modification, lysine methylation, and the enzymes that catalyse this. These ‘lysine methyltransferases’ play vital roles in maintaining human health and development, and in preventing tumourigenesis. Our main focus is on how these enzymes control the DDR and therefore prevent genome instability.

This PhD will investigate the function of the KMT2 family of Lys methyltransferases in the DDR. The project will involve a wide variety of laboratory techniques, including mass spectrometry, co-immunoprecipitation, RNAi techniques, in vitro activity and binding assays, fluorescent and visual microscopy, immunoblotting and immunofluorescence, molecular cloning, cell culture and CRISPR-based mutagenesis. These approaches will lead to a greater understanding of how lysine methylation is involved in maintain integrity of the genome and preventing human disease.

For further information, please contact [Email Address Removed].

Person Specification:
Applicants should have a strong background in molecular and cellular biology, with experience of one or more of the following laboratory techniques: mammalian tissue culture; immunofluorescence; immunoblotting or molecular cloning. Previous experience of a research lab environment is essential. They should be ambitious, enthusiastic and self-motivated, and hold at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant biological subject. If applicable, they should also be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language.

Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students Only.


BOD1L is required to suppress deleterious resection of stressed replication forks. Higgs MR et al., 2015, Mol Cell: 59; 462-77.

Hijacked in cancer: the KMT2 (MLL) family of methyltransferases. Rao and Dou, 2015, Nature Reviews Cancer: 15; 334-346.

Quantitative dissection and stoichiometry determination of the human SET1/MLL histone methyltransferase complexes. Van Nuland et al., 2013, Mol Cell Biol: 33; 2067-77.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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