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EASTBIO (College of Science and Engineering) The Role of Notochord Progenitors in Mammalian Axial Elongation

The University of Edinburgh

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Edinburgh
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 25th October 2021
Closes: 16th December 2021
 

Applications accepted up to Thursday 16th December 2021, 5pm 

1st Supervisor: Prof Val Wilson (University of Edinburgh)

Other Supervisors: Prof Kim Dale (University of Dundee)

About the Project

The backbone, muscle and spinal cord are formed progressively from the neck to the tip of the tail from embryonic cells known as neuromesodermal progenitors (NMPs)1. This process is called axial elongation. Our lab, which first showed that these progenitors exist, is now investigating how NMPs are maintained, and how they choose neural versus mesodermal fates, during mammalian axial elongation. We found recently that axial elongation depends critically on the interaction of NMPs with a separate, adjacent, tiny population of progenitors for the notochord- reminiscent of a stem cell-niche interaction2. Despite their small number, the cell cycle characteristics of notochord progenitors are diverse: while most of the surrounding cells in the embryo are rapidly proliferating, only about 50% of the notochord progenitors seem to be in cycle, while their immediate descendants are quiescent.

The Dale lab has shown previously that the Notch signalling pathway is important for cell fate decisions in both notochord progenitors and NMPs. Recently they have uncovered a mechanism by which Notch signalling is regulated by the cell cycle, potentially linking this signalling pathway to the decisions made by notochord progenitors to self-renew or differentiate3.

This PhD project is a collaboration between the Wilson and Dale labs to investigate (1) how notochord progenitors are maintained, (2) how they, in turn, interact with NMPs to sustain axis elongation and (3) whether Notch is important for regulating notochord progenitor maintenance, differentiation, or both.

The project will be based mainly in Edinburgh at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, with regular contact with Prof Dale and, for analysis related to chick embryos and Notch signalling.

References

  • Wilson et al. (2009) Stem cells, signals and vertebrate body axis extension. Development. doi:10.1242/dev.039172
  • Wymeersch FJ, et al. (2019) Transcriptionally dynamic progenitor populations organised around a stable niche drive axial patterning. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.168161.
  • Karrieri  FA et al. (2019) CDK1 and CDK2 regulate NICD1 turnover and the periodicity of the segmentation clock. Embo Rep. doi: 10.15252/embr.201846436

Funding Notes

UKRI-funded studentships are open to students worldwide and will cover tuition fees at the UK rate, plus a stipend to support living costs and an annual research grant of £5,000 for the first three years of the PhD research. For further details on funding eligibility and how to apply, please see link below.

Click here to APPLY NOW 

The EASTBIO team will run a series of 1-hour online sessions in November/December, open to applicants who have queries about the application process. Please view EASTBIO How to Apply webpage for details. 

Unfortunately due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications.

The School of Biological Sciences is committed to Equality & Diversity www.ed.ac.uk/biology/equality-and-diversity

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