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Pro-survival activities of the cancer-associated protein survivin

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Wheatley
    Dr S Loughna
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Survivin is a small adaptor protein that is upregulated in all human cancers and whose expression dictates a poor prognosis for the patients, and likely resistance to chemo- and radiation therapies. While the expression of survivin in cancer cells clearly confers a survival advantage, the mechanism(s) by which it achieves this are still largely unknown. At the molecular level survivin acts in consort with several mitotic proteins including aurora-B kinase, borealin and INCENP to ensure that chromosomes are correctly attached to the mitotic spindle before the cell segregates them into the daughter cells. These proteins, which are collectively referred to as the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC), also regulate cytokinesis and are essential for cell proliferation and this aspect of survivin biology is the best understood.

In addition to its role as part of the CPC, survivin can also inhibit cell death and is a member of the inhibitor or apoptosis family of proteins (IAPs), which bind to and inhibit the activity of the death effector proteins, the caspases. However, unlike its IAP family members, survivin lacks the specific caspase interaction sites thought to be required for direct interaction with caspases. Thus while it is uncontested that survivin overexpression reduces caspase activity, how it achieves this remains unclear. Further pro-survival roles of survivin have recently begun to emerge, and of particular interest to our lab is its role in mitochondrial health, metabolism and autophagy.

The aim of this project is to dissect that molecular pathways that permit this fascinating little protein to prevent cancer cells from programmed cell death.

The University of Nottingham is one of the world’s most respected research-intensive universities, ranked 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2014). Students studying in the School of Life Sciences will have the opportunity to thrive in a vibrant, multidisciplinary environment, with expert supervision from leaders in their field, state-of-the-art facilities and strong links with industry. Students are closely monitored in terms of their personal and professional progression throughout their study period and are assigned academic mentors in addition to their supervisory team. The School provides structured training as a fundamental part of postgraduate personal development and our training programme enables students to develop skills across the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF). During their studies, students will also have the opportunity to attend and present at conferences around the world. The School puts strong emphasis on the promotion of postgraduate research with a 2-day annual PhD research symposium attended by all students, plus academic staff and invited speakers.

Funding Notes

Home applicants should contact the supervisor to determine the current funding status for this project. EU applicants should visit the Graduate School webpages for information on specific EU scholarships International applicants should visit our International Research Scholarships page for information regarding fees and funding at the University

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 90.86

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

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