Environmental regulation of mRNA decay in adult stem cells


How cells control the rate at which specific mRNAs are destroyed critically influences gene expression levels and cell function. Little is known about how the three dimensional cellular niche and environmental biomechanics affects mRNA turnover although some studies indicate that regulators of the process such as micrornas are sensitive to such conditions. The local environment is critical for regulating stem cell senescence, self-renewal and differentiation. Building on our existing expertise in studying mRNA decay in cartilage cells, this project will determine how the dimensionality and mechanical properties of the stem cell environment affects the decay of individual mRNAs using both gene specific analysis and transcriptome wide screening.

Training will be provided in a range of cell culture techniques, including adult stem cell isolation, three dimensional culture systems and mechanical stimulation of cells. Furthermore, this project offers an opportunity to gain experience in the use of cutting edge (RNA-Seq) techniques to analyse transcriptome-wide changes in mRNA decay. The project would suit a candidate who has an interest in understanding the biology that underpins stem cell function and who wishes to gain training in both practical laboratory skills and in generating and analysing large transcriptomic datasets.

The Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasize the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent). Candidates whose first language is not English should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above. 

To apply please click here


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

There is NO funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, living expenses and research costs of £10,000 per year. Details of costs can be found on the University website.



McDermott BT, Ellis S, Bou-Gharios G, Clegg PD & Tew SR (2016) “RNA binding proteins regulate anabolic and catabolic gene expression in chondrocytes” Osteoarthritis Cartilage 24:1263--73

Tew SR, McDermott BT, Fentem RB, Peffers MJ, Clegg PD. (2014) “Transcriptome-wide analysis of mRNA decay in normal and osteoarthritic human articular chondrocytes.” Arthritis Rheumatol 66:3052-61  


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