MSc by Research: Understanding the beginning of life: the role of non-canonical ubiquitylation in early embryonic development

   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr Virginia De Cesare  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Ubiquitin is a small, yet influential, protein that is attached to other substrates to control their stability or activity in a process called ubiquitylation. Ubiquitylation underpins many biological pathways and is fundamental in maintaining cellular homeostasis. Ageing and environmental or genetic insults that disrupt the ubiquitylation process often lead to the development of debilitating human diseases (cancer, neurodegeneration, immunity disorders). E2 conjugating enzymes (E2s) play a central role in the enzymatic cascade that ultimately leads to the attachment of ubiquitin to a substrate. Since its discovery, ubiquitylation has been regarded as a post-translational modification that specifically targets lysine side chains and protein N-termini (canonical ubiquitylation). In the De Cesare lab we focus on E2 conjugating enzymes that are instead able to conjugate ubiquitin to serine and/or threonine residues (non-canonical E2s). This type of ubiquitylation has been recently found to have larger and more pervasive roles than previously appreciated. In particular, the targeted disruption of non-canonical E2s in a mouse model has been found to have pleiotropic effects on fertility: it is crucial for the implantation and development of embryos and their subsequent viability during pregnancy. Understanding the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the attachment of healthy embryos to the uterus is pivotal in reproductive medicine. We use quantitative proteomics, MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry, protein modelling and prediction tools (AlphaFold and COOT) and biochemical assays (SDS-PAGE, Western blotting, etc.) to characterize non-canonical E2s. We further employ genetic and molecular biology techniques (generation of knock-out and knock-in cell lines via CRISPR-Cas9, TAG degraders) to resolve the molecular mechanisms that drive such a dramatic phenotype. As a one-year Master student, you will contribute to an on-going project in the lab.

The project will be mainly wet-lab-based and can be tailored to your specific interests and motivations. If you are interested in joining the lab and in contributing to the exploration of this new and exciting area of research, do not hesitate to get in touch with Virginia. 

Please see our website for further details on the programme:

Life Sciences MSc by Research MSc by Research (Postgraduate) : Study : University of Dundee

Please note before submitting your application that you must list your top three project choices in the Research Proposal section of the application form.

You apply for this course using our Direct Application System. Once you've signed up for an account you'll be asked to search for a course.

To find Life Science MSc by Research you should select the following options:

· Course type: Research Postgraduate

· Keyword: Life

When you complete your form, you should include your top 3 project choices, 2 letters of reference, uploaded under "Other Information" > "Supporting documents" and a personal statement. Failure to do so will delay your application.

Please note when submitting an application that we have the following deadline dates throughout the year:

September Starts - Application Deadline 1st May, Interview Date - Late June

January Starts - Application Deadline 1st Sep, Interview Date - Late October

May Starts - Application Deadline 1st Feb, Interview Date - Late March 

Biological Sciences (4)

Where will I study?

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 About the Project