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Adhesion Pathways in Extracellular Matrix Organisation

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

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides structural and mechanical support to tissues and modulates cell phenotype and behaviour in health and disease. Changes in ECM composition can permit carcinoma cell metastasis and the build-up of ECM is central to the chronic pathology of tissue fibrosis. Thrombospondins are a conserved family of ECM proteins that impact on the organisation of collagen-based ECMs and cell activities. We are studying the cellular mechanisms by which thrombospondins modulate ECM organisation and activate cell-signaling pathways that promote cell migration. Ongoing goals are to elucidate fundamental mechanisms and develop agents that can modulate the retention of thrombospondins within ECM. We are also investigating secretory mechanisms that more generally control ECM quality and quantity. Another area of interest is the role of cell-ECM interactions in cell migration and cancer metastasis, with a focus on fascin-1, an actin-bundling protein that correlates clinically with aggressive carcinomas and may promote metastasis. Molecular, cellular, biochemical, imaging and bioinformatics approaches are used to address these questions. Possible Ph.D. projects can relate to any research area.


1. Kim+, D.J., Christofidou+, E.D., Keene, D.R, Milde, H.M. and Adams, J.C. (2015). Inter-Molecular Interactions Of Thrombospondins Drive Their Accumulation In Extracellular Matrix (+co-first-authors). Mol. Biol. Cell. 26:2640-54. doi:10.1091/mbc.E14-05-0996.

2. Hellewell, A.L., Rosini, S. and Adams, J.C. (2017). A Rapid, Scalable Method for Isolation, Functional Study and Analysis of Cell-Derived Extracellular Matrix. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2017 Jan 4. (119). doi: 10.3791/55051.

3. Tan, V.Y., Lewis, S.J., Adams, J.C. and Martin, R.M. (2013). Association of fascin-1 with Mortality, Disease Progression and Metastasis in carcinomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Medicine 11:52 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-52

4. Adams, J.C. (2014). Fascin-1 as a prospective biomarker and therapeutic target in colorectal cancer. Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics 15:41-8.

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