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Structure and function of neurohypophysial hormone receptors

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Wheatley
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The neurohypophysial peptide hormones vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT) regulate amongst other things diuresis and lactation respectively. The manifold physiological effects produced by these hormones are mediated by specific receptors expressed by target tissues. This project will investigate how the structure of these receptors for these two homologous hormones relates to their function. We have clones of the AVP receptor (VPR) and the OT receptor (OTR). This will allow us to use molecular biology to probe by mutation, residues/domains of receptors implicated in binding hormones or transducing intracellular signals. The effect of these changes will be characterised after the expression of these mutant receptors in cultured cell lines. Using constructs of the receptors which incorporate the epitope recognised by a commercial antibody, it will be possible to analyse changes to the receptor during its activation such as phosphorylation/acylation.

This project will expose the student to a wide range of techniques and combines molecular biology, peptide chemistry, radioligand binding studies, confocal microscopy and cell culture. The project is intellectually challenging as the mediation of hormone action by receptors involves complex molecular phenomena. However, the student would be joining an active laboratory which is well-equipped for this study and which is housed in an excellent research department.

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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


Wheatley et al., (2011) Brit. J. Pharmacol. (in press).

Wootten et al., (2011) Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 333, 20-27.

Conner et al., (2007) J. Biol. Chem. 282, 17405-17412.

Wheatley et al., (2007) Biochem. Soc. Trans. 35, 717-720.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

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

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