PhD Studentship: Altering mRNA metabolism by protein-mediated sequestration into RNA granules in response to cellular stress and aging

University of Sussex - Biochemistry and Biomedicine

A Ph.D. studentship (42 months) is available under the supervision of Dr. Tracy Nissan, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedicine, School of Life Sciences.

Deadline: 15th January, 2018

mRNA turnover is an essential process which controls and shapes gene expression. mRNA and proteins involved in mRNA degradation are concentrated in cytoplasmic foci termed RNA granules, which are highly induced upon multiple cellular stresses. The protein components of RNA granules play significant roles under stress and in aging. Our previous research has shown that the absence of mRNA sequestration in these structures can alter mRNAs’ stability and abundance. We recently determined that one of the protein components of RNA granules significantly and specifically alters mRNA expression genome-wide due to changes in mRNA stability. The changes in expression are significant for specific classes of mRNA important for responding to stress. 

Our goal is to obtain a general understanding of the role of sequestration of RNA binding proteins within larger cytoplasmic structures by examining a set of proteins found in RNA granules. Specifically, what is each protein’s effect on gene expression when sequestered and is it specific or general? The effect of sequestration of these proteins will be assessed for global changes in mRNA abundance, stability and transcription. This will be combined with crosslinking and analysis of cDNA (CRAC) bound by the proteins both within RNA granules and free in the cytosol to obtain an inventory of mRNA populations. The results obtained from these studies will be examined with a focus on their physiological role to combat stress or premature aging.

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including a CV, degree transcripts and certificates, statement of interest and names of two academic referees.

On the application system use Programme of Study – PhD Biochemistry

Please make sure you include the project title and Supervisor’s name with your statement of interest on the application form.

This School funded position, which covers fees and a stipend at standard RCUK rates, is open to Home / EU applicants. Candidates with experience in molecular biology and an interest in gene expression are encouraged to apply.

Eligible applicants will have recently received an MSc and/or a First or high 2:1 BSc in a relevant subject.

Due to funding limitations, the fee waiver and maintenance is set at Home/EU rates only.

Contact Anna Izykowska for application enquiries (
For enquiries about the project contact contact Tracy Nissan (

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