• Cancers
  • Neuroscience

Location: St Lucia

Type of student:  PhD or MPhil only (includes intercalated PhD & MPhil and Concurrent MPhil) 

Type of work: Wet lab work 

Melanoma represents a complex and heterogeneous population of tumour cells, which may arise from the malignant transformation of melanocytic precursor cells resident in the skin. The complexity of a melanoma tumour is seen in the switch between proliferative and invasive states of its constituent cells.  The relative expression of the BRN2 and MITF transcription factors serve as a critical tipping point in the regulation of genes in melanocyte development and that drive melanoma metastasis and push these cells toward invasive or proliferative phenotypes within the tumour.  We have recently identified the NFIB transcription factor as a down-stream effector of the BRN2 protein and found that it is a crucial mediator of the invasive/migratory phenotype of BRN2 positive cells.  Moreover, NFIB regulates the chromatin modifying enzyme Ezh2 which has a well recognised role in driving melanoma metastasis and is a potential therapeutic target for this disease.

This project will explore our Hypothesis that regulatory programs facilitated by NFIB in melanoma cells co-ordinate the epigenetic, metabolic and physiological changes necessary for tumour cells to adapt to, and overcome, the challenges encountered in metastatic dissemination.  Accordingly, a deeper understanding of the role played by NFIB in the BRN2-MITF axis will reveal novel targets to limit tumour metastasis and complement and extend the therapeutic arsenal currently used to address this disease.  

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