University of Sheffield
Background: Telomeres solve two problems with linear chromosomes: the end-replication problem, DNA loss from the end of chromosomes every replication cycle; and the end-protection problem, protection of the chromosome ends to prevent chromosome fusions. Telomere homeostasis is vital, mutations in telomeric complexes drive cancer development and premature ageing due to dysregulated telomere lengthening or shortening. Shelterin, a large protein complex, bind to telomeres and is central to maintaining telomere homeostasis. This project will use our recently developed in vitro reconstituted telomeric system to determine how Shelterin orchestrates multiple telomere activities from the single-molecule to cellular level. This approach will for the first time directly observe telomeric DNA structure, down to the resolution of the double-helix, whilst allowing direct monitoring the activity of individual Shelterin complexes. This will provide insight into how Shelterin coordinates the multiple functions of telomeres.
Objectives: 1. Generate telomeric substrates containing G-quadruplexes or R-loops 2. Determine how different telomeric structures effect activity of Shelterin at the single-molecule level 3. Probe how differences in Shelterin activity affect T-loop stability and end-protection in vivo Novelty: Ageing is a primary driver of some of the most prevalent chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s and cancers. Understanding the physiological mechanisms of ageing could prevent a wide variety of diseases. A lack of a reconstituted telomeric system means fundamental mechanistic details remain unknown. We have successfully purified the entire Shelterin complex and demonstrated that it is active, enabling reconstitution of Shelterin mediated telomere function in vitro. We have developed single-molecule experimental approaches tailored to this project with leading industrial partners (Lumicks, Bruker). This will facilitate the first direct visualisation of Shelterin recruitment and end-protection activities, giving unprecedented insight into how Shelterin modulates these processes.
Experimental Approach: This project combines multiple cutting-edge single-molecule techniques, and the expertise of leaders in these fields, to allow direct visualisation of telomeric processes. In this project you will receive training in optical-tweezer with confocal microscopy, which will enable you to directly observe Shelterin activity on telomeric DNA at single-molecule resolution, and analyse detailed kinetics. You will also perform pN resolution force measurements to probe changes in telomeric DNA structure. You will also use high-resolution AFM, which will enable you to visualise different telomeric DNA structures down to the resolution of the double-helix and utilise and contribute to our open quantitative image analysis tools, integrating machine learning approaches to visualise and quantify structural features within Shelterin bound telomeric DNA. These biophysical approaches will be supported by established cellular and genetic assays to validate findings in vivo. Finally, we will characterise cancer and ageing associated mutations to understand how they dysregulate telomere function.
You will be supervised by Dr Matt Newton, a Wellcome Funded Research Fellow based at the University of Sheffield, and visiting scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, Dr Alice Pyne, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield (www.pyne-lab.uk) and Dr Simon Boulton, (https://www.crick.ac.uk/research/labs/simon-boulton) a group leader at the Francis Crick Institute. All supervisors are committed to embedding positive and inclusive research cultures in their groups.
The supervisors will work together to ensure expectations on students and of supervisors are clearly defined and communicated. Open, respectful, and constructive communication within the team is actively fostered through individual and regular group meetings. We welcome applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds across the physical and biological sciences and engineering.
Twitter: @M_D_Newton, @alicepyne, @BoultonLab
Interested candidates are strongly encouraged to contact the project supervisors to discuss your interest in and suitability for the project prior to submitting your application.
Please refer to the EPSRC DTP webpage for detailed information about the EPSRC DTP and how to apply.
**Click here to apply now.**
For any queries about the project please contact Dr Matthew Newton.
This is an EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship. The award will fund the full (UK or Overseas) tuition fee and UKRI stipend (currently £18,622 per annum) for 3.5 years, as well as a research grant to support costs associated with the project.
Molecular Cell (2023), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2023.09.008
Nature (2022), 601:268–273, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04261-0
Nature Communications (2021), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21243-y
Methods (2021), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymeth.2021.01.008
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2019), 26:185-192
Nature (2021), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2960-y
View or Apply
To help us track our recruitment effort, please indicate in your cover/motivation letter where (vacanciesin.eu) you saw this job posting.