Our cells constantly sense and transport ions present in their environment. From embryonic development to epilepsy to heart disease to cancer, our cells’ ability to respond to changes in the ionic microenvironment is essential for healthy ageing. We recently discovered a new link between sodium transport and cancer metastasis. This could be a mechanism of integrating ionic signals into intracellular and cell-cell communication. In this project, you will build on these findings and explore how ion transporters and channels affect signalling, metabolism and communication in cancer cells. We will use a range of sophisticated microscopy approaches, e.g. confocal microscopy and ptychography, to explore the functional activity of ion channels and their effect on amino acid metabolism and intracellular signalling. We will modulate channel expression using pharmacological and genetic (RNAi, CRISPR) techniques. Importantly, we will measure channel activity using a combination of whole cell patch clamp recording and ion-sensitive dyes. We will also study the effects of ion channel activity on downstream signalling and cellular behaviour using molecular cell biology approaches. The project will therefore expose the student to a range of cutting-edge cell biology techniques in labs that are leading in this field. As ion transport plays a key role in normal cellular physiology and in a number of diseases, this project is expected to provide novel mechanistic insights into an important, and relatively understudied signalling mechanism.
The York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.