MicroRNAs are 22 nt single-stranded RNA molecules that modulate gene function primarily through translational repression. There are thousands of microRNA genes in mammalian genomes, and hundreds in invertebrate genomes. Nearly all novel microRNAs are discovered by deep sequencing approaches. The Griffiths-Jones lab runs the miRBase database, which acts as the public repository for published microRNA sequences and annotation. There are thousands of publicly-available RNAseq datasets that describe the expression of microRNAs in animal cells and tissues, and during developmental time-course experiments. This project will aim to use these data to understand the expression and conservation of animal microRNA genes, and to analyse the quality of microRNA gene annotations in available animal genome sequences. These data will allow us to ask questions such as:
1. Which sets of microRNAs are highly conserved in different clades?
2. Do clade-specific microRNAs display characteristic expression patterns during development?
3. What are the predicted functions of microRNAs that display particular patterns of conservation and expression?
The project will involve genome-scale data analysis, and computational approaches to understand microRNA conservation, expression and function. There will be an opportunity to design and carry out genetic experiments to validate predictions and findings in model organisms including Drosophila melanogaster. The results of large-scale data analyses will be used to improve the functionality of the miRBase database.
1. Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a biological or computational science. Candidates with experience or specific interest in analysing large-scale biological datasets are encouraged to apply.
2. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the PhD title.
3. For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk