Background to research and synopsis

Our (KS&JJM) research group works towards understanding the molecular basis of human diseases linked to DNA damage, replication and repair. The proposed research project will focus on a cancer driver gene zfp36l1 differentially expressed in all the top 4 commonly occurring cancers in the UK: colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer. A recent large-scale study conducted on a cohort of 2500 breast cancer patients listed zfp36l1 among the top 10 cancer driver gene alongside BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53 and others. Our lab specialises in CRISPR genome engineering and results recently obtained using CRISPR knockout cellular models at our lab in UoW indicate a significant role of this gene in replication-coupled DNA repair. There is a significant gap in knowledge of ZFP36L1 and its molecular networks and the crucial roles played by this protein in regulation of cell survival and death. In this direction, the study, using CRISPR technology will generate knockout cellular models in breast cancer-derived cells, characterize the protein at a molecular level and identify the interacting partner proteins of ZFP36L1. Taken together, the proposed study will address the unanswered questions related to the role of this particular RNA binding protein in DNA damage response and in breast cancer progression.

Recent publications by supervisors that are relevant to the project

Di Marco, S. et al. RECQ5 helicase cooperates with MUS81 endonuclease in processing stalled replication forks at common fragile sites during mitosis. Mol. Cell 66, 658–671.e8 (2017).

Zekavati, A., Nasir, A., Alcaraz, A., Aldrovandi, M., Marsh, P., Norton, J. D., & Murphy, J. J. (2014). Post-transcriptional regulation of BCL2 mRNA by the RNA-binding protein ZFP36L1 in malignant B cells. PloS one, 9(7)


Informal enquiries to: Dr Kalpana Surendranath
E: [email protected] 
W: LinkedIn 

Entry requirements

Candidates should normally have a minimum classification of 2.1 in their Bachelor Degree or equivalent and preferably a Masters degree. Applicants whose secondary level education has not been conducted in the medium of English should also demonstrate evidence of appropriate English language proficiency normally defined as IELTS: 6.5 (overall score with not less than 6.0 in any of the individual elements).

Read more about our entry requirements.

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Please follow this link to apply for the programme most appropriate to your research, please note that the programme appears as MPhil on UCAS, however there is an option on the form to request PhD via MPhil, which is the standard route.

To make your application for (SLS1):

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Interviews will be held in June/July 2019. The Studentship title is SLS1 Full Scholarship and Fee Waiver School of Life Sciences. Please include this in your application, you must also list the Project Code in order for us to allocate your application to the correct.