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Regulation of Keratinocyte Cell Death by Rho Family GTPases

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr N A Hotchin  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The epidermis is a self-renewing epithelial tissue comprised of several layers of keratinocytes and provides the protective function of the skin. Normal epidermal function requires that keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation and death be carefully controlled. Signalling through adhesion receptors such as integrins and cadherins plays a key role in regulating epidermal function and the Rho family of small GTP-binding proteins play a central role in regulating these adhesion-dependent signaling events. Desmosomes are cadherin-based cell-cell adhesion structures that are essential to the normal integrity and function of the epidermis. Defects in desmosome function underlie a number of disease processes including the skin-blistering disease Pemphigus vulgaris and there is increasing evidence that desmosomes play a role in the progression of a number of cancers. We recently discovered a novel role for a a Rho GTPase called Rnd3 in regulating desmosome assembly and as a consequence programmed cell death in human epidermal keratinocytes. This project will analyse the molecular mechanism by which Rnd3 regulates desmosome assembly and apoptosis in human keratinocytes and will have implications for not only understanding normal skin biology but also skin diseases including cancer.
Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is 31 January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also 31 January each year.

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank).

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities available and further information is also available on the School of Biosciences website


Ryan et al (2012). Plakoglobin-dependent regulation of keratinocyte apoptosis by Rnd3. J. Cell Sci. 125, 3202-3209.

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