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Eukaryotic gene expression: understanding the mechanism connecting pre-mRNA processing with ribosomal translation


Project Description

A central tenet of eukaryotic gene expression and gene regulation is that ribosomes function only in the cytoplasm. However, we and others have recently reported that there are functional ribosomes in the nucleus (McLeod et al, 2014). The aim of this project is to make use of the research-amenable fruit fly Drosophila and fission yeast to explore how nuclear ribosomes contribute to gene expression. This research has the potential to radically change the current understanding of molecular biology of eukaryotes and it will provide training in modern molecular genetics.

A specific aim is to understand the mechanism which links pre-mRNA splicing to translation and nonsense mediated mRNA decay (Brogna et al, 2016). This project will require a combination of molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics. Particularly, we will use CRISPR-Cas9 (Jacobs et al, 2014) to introduce nonsense mutations and high-throughput RNA sequencing to analyse how these affect transcription and processing.

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is in January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also in January each year.

Please note the only funding available for our PhD is via the Scholarships mentioned. All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. Any academically suitable applicant that does not indicate how they intend to fund their studies will be considered for the Darwin and/or the Elite Scholarships if not already indicated. We can only consider applicants who have their own funding or wish to apply for their own funding or are successful in gaining a Scholarship.

Funding Notes

Research Council Studentships are available for UK applicants. EU applicants resident in the UK may also be eligible. Non-UK students interested in molecular microbiology may apply for a Darwin Trust Scholarship.

We have a thriving community of International PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students of any nationality either able to fund their own studies or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship Council, Islamic Development Bank).

For further information on funding see View Website


1: Brogna S, McLeod T, Petric M. The Meaning of NMD: Translate or Perish. Trends
Genet. 2016 May 14. pii: S0168-9525(16)30021-X. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2016.04.007.
[Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 27185236.

2: McLeod T, Abdullahi A, Li M, Brogna S. Recent studies implicate the nucleolus
as the major site of nuclear translation. Biochem Soc Trans. 2014
Aug;42(4):1224-8. doi: 10.1042/BST20140062. Review. PubMed PMID: 25110029.

3: Jacobs JZ, Ciccaglione KM, Tournier V, Zaratiegui M. Implementation of the
CRISPR-Cas9 system in fission yeast. Nat Commun. 2014 Oct 29;5:5344. doi:
10.1038/ncomms6344. PubMed PMID: 25352017; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4215166.

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