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mRNA epigenetics: Charaterization of a novel layer of gene regulation for essential brain functions

School of Biosciences

, Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

For over 40 years we know about modified nucleotides in mRNA, but the functions for these essential modifications are largely elusive. Recent characterization of the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene as a demethylase of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) indicates key roles for mRNA methylation in neuronal control of body weight1. FTO is highly expressed in the brain and has also been associated with other neurological disorders such as depression, epilepsy and Alzheimers disease.
We use a Drosophila genetic model system to investigate the biological function of these modifications2. Our aim is to identify which mRNAs are modified and where in these mRNAs modifications are localised. Furthermore, we aim to characterize the molecular machinery that places these modifications and the signalling pathways that regulate the dynamics of them. Last, we like to know the biological functions for these modifications.

For information about research in our laboratory, please visit:

Funding Notes

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP, View Website) ) is a BBSRC-funded doctoral training partnership between the universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. It delivers innovative, world-class research training across the Life Sciences to boost the growing Bioeconomy across the UK. After an initial training year research will be carried out mainly at the University of Birmingham. This is a four-year studentship with a standard rate. Additional benefits include a travel allowance for the training year and a laptop. Eligibility: UK/EU nationals, residence in the UK is NOT a pre-requisite.

Too apply please go to and generate an account: View Website


1: Dezi, V., Ivanov, C., Haussmann, I. U. and Soller, M. (2016) mRNA modifications and their role in development and disease. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 44: 1385-93.
2: Haussmann, I.U., Bodi, Z., Sanchez-Moran, E., Mongan, N., Archer, N., Fray, R., and Soller, M. (2016) m6A potentiates Sxl alternative pre-mRNA splicing for robust Drosophila sex determination. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature20577.
3: Roignant, J.Y. and Soller, M. (2017) m6A in mRNA: An ancient mechanism to fine tune gene expression. TiG 33: 380-390.

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