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Long non-coding RNAs and their role in gene regulation during cell fate transitions and cancer

Project Description

Recent studies by the ENCODE consortium have suggested that in addition to protein coding genes, large parts of the human genome have functional roles. One novel function is mediated by long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Indeed, it is becoming apparent that lncRNAs can function in an analogous manner to proteins in controlling gene regulation through either affecting chromatin structure of more directly influencing transcription. To date, only a handful of lncRNAs have been characterised. By using RNAseq, we have recently identified dozens of novel inducibly transcribed lncRNAs in mammalian cells. First we have identified lncRNAs that are upregulated by signalling through the ERK pathway. Several of these are over-expressed in breast cancer cells. Secondly, we have identified lncRNAs that are upregulated during embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation. The aim of this project will be to identify the molecular function of these novel lncRNAs and investigate their biological function in the context of normal epithelial cell function, aberrant function in epithelial-derived cancers and their role in ESC differentiation.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


Vance KW, Ponting CP. 2014. Transcriptional regulatory functions of nuclear long noncoding RNAs. Trends Genet. 30(8):348-355

Bergmann JH, Spector DL. 2014. Long non-coding RNAs: modulators of nuclear structure and function. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 26:10-8.

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