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PhD position available: The role of microRNAs in neural crest development

Posted by , on 20 November 2012

Closing Date: 15 March 2021





The role of microRNAs in neural crest development


MicroRNAs (miR) are short, non-coding RNAs around 22 nucleotides long. They block gene expression either by translational repression or by causing the degradation of the mRNAs they bind to. They are involved in controlling various mechanisms during development by regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Some are highly conserved amongst diverse organisms and many of them have highly specific spatio-temporal expression patterns during development.


The Neural Crest (NC) are multipotent cells that arise at the border between the ectoderm and the neural plate. They give rise to tissues such as craniofacial muscle, peripheral and enteric nerves and pigment cells. In adults NC derived tissues can give rise to neuroblastoma and melanoma. We have been interested in studying neural crest development for a number of years.


We have recently carried out a project determining the expression patterns in Xenopus embryos of 195 miRs by wholemount in situ hybridisation (WISH). Some of these miRs showed expression in the NC.


The aim of this project will be to further characterize the expression of these miRs in NC as well as using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to identify other miRs expressed in NC and to then look at the function of some of these during NC development and to identify the target mRNAs they bind to.


White RM, Cech J, Ratanasirintrawoot S, Lin CY, Rahl PB, Burke CJ, Langdon E, Tomlinson ML, Mosher J, Kaufman C, Chen F, Long HK, Kramer M, Datta S, Neuberg D, Granter S, Young RA, Morrison S, Wheeler GN, Zon LI. (2011) DHODH modulates transcriptional elongation in the neural crest and melanoma. Nature. 471:518-22


Muhammad Abu-Elmagd, Carla Garcia-Morales and Grant N. Wheeler (2006). Frizzled 7 mediates canonical Wnt signalling in neural crest induction. Developmental Biology, 298:285-298



Deadline for application November 30th 2012

For further info contact Dr. Grant Wheeler


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