Rekrutacja 21/22 - 1

  • May 9, 2021 - Recruitment announcement published

  • May 24, 2021 - Start of the recruitment

  • June 6, 2021 - Deadline for documents submission

Research projects for admissions 2021/2022-1:

  1. Poly(A) tails - central hubs of mRNA stability control, Professor Andrzej Dziembowski

  2. The role of mTOR-Brg1 interaction in normal and aberrant neuronal activity (NCN/MAESTRO), Professor Jacek Jaworski

  3. Signaling of AXL receptor in cancer cells, Professor Marta Miączyńska, Daria Zdżalik-Bielecka, PhD

  4. RNA-Protein Interactions in Human Health and Disease (NCN/DIOSUCRI), Gracjan Michlewski, PhD, Professor

  5. Identifying unique adaptive responses of red pulp macrophages to iron deficiency (NCN/SONATA), Wojciech Pokrzywa, PhD DSc, PI: Katarzyna Mleczko-Sanecka, PhD

Poly(A) tails - central hubs of mRNA stability control

Supervisor: Professor Andrzej Dziembowski

Institute: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw

Laboratory: Laboratory of RNA Biology

Project description:

Gene expression is regulated at multiple levels. Our lab is interested in the regulation of mRNA stability, especially through the modifications of poly(A) tails. Recently, we have shown that the addition of untemplated uridines to the 3’ end of LINE1 retrotransposons precludes their propagation (Warkocki et al. Cell 2018). Moreover, we have identified a family of poly(A) polymerases TENT5, which reside in the cytoplasm and enhance the expression of mRNAs encoding secreted proteins (Moczek et al. Nature com. 2017; Bilska et al. Nature com. 2020; Gewartowska et al. Cell reports 2021). Those enzymes are differentially expressed in tissues and organs, affecting several aspects of animal physiology. TENT5C is an onco-suppressor in multiple myeloma and control immunoglobulin expression in B cells. TENT5A is essential for collagen secretion, and its mutations lead to congenital bone disease

To study the dynamics of poly(A) tails genome-wide, we have implemented a Direct RNA sequencing Nanopore methodology. It is now widely used in our projects, and we also collaborate with other laboratories interested in post-transcriptional gene expression regulation (for instance, Scheer et al. Nature com. 2021). Moreover, we use Direct RNA sequencing to look globally at the regulation of poly(A) tails (Tudek et al. Nature com., under revision).

In the future, we will continue to study the role and mechanism of action of TENT5 poly(A) polymerases, analyze global control of poly(A) tail lengths and develop bioinformatics tools for Direct RNA sequencing. Finally, we are planning to translate our knowledge out poly(A) tails for the design of mRNAs, which are more stable and better translated, which will be very valuable for mRNA-based therapeutics such as mRNA vaccines.

Aim:

The exact nature of the project will depend on the skills, predispositions, and interests of the selected PhD student. It may focus on:

  • functional analysis of the TENT5A poly(A) polymerases in transgenic mouse models generated in-house using CRISPR/Cas9 methodology

  • mastering of the DRS methodology in either the experimental part or bioinformatic analysis

  • analysis of principles of mRNA stability control and design of more efficient mRNA based therapeutics

Requirements:

  • Master's degree in biology, biochemistry or related field

  • Eligibility for PhD studies in Poland

  • Highly talented individuals who are passionate about research and are full of scientific curiosity

  • Experience in either: molecular biology/transcriptomics, animal models, bioinformatic analysis of transcriptomic data, will be a clear benefit

  • Written and spoken fluency in English

  • Willingness to learn and take new challenges, ability to work independently, analytical thinking

  • Good interpersonal skills and a collaborative attitude.

Number of positions available: 2

Contact: Andrzej Dziembowski

The role of mTOR-Brg1 interaction in normal and aberrant neuronal activity (NCN/MAESTRO)

Supervisor: Professor Jacek Jaworski

Institute: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw

Laboratory: Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology

Project description:

Gene expression is key for brain development and function and is regulated by a complex protein apparatus, which, among other things, is responsible for changes in the spatial packing of DNA in the cellular nucleus. mTOR kinase is one of the basic regulators of metabolism Mutations in the mTOR regulating genes, i.e. TSC1 or TSC2 lead to multi-organ diseases with serious neurological and neuropsychological symptoms. One of such diseases is tuberous sclerosis complex characterized by the occurrence of epilepsy, mental retardation and autism spectrum disorders. mTOR acts on many proteins changing their function, but occurs mainly in cytoplasm. However, the results of our previous research and the preliminary data which form the basis of this research proposal indicate that neuronal activity causes mTOR to move to the nucleus of the cell, where it interacts with Brg1. Using advanced molecular, cellular biology and microscopy methods we plan to study how mTOR-Brg1 interaction affects neuronal activity, epileptogenesis and social interactions. The research will use in vitro cultured neurons (rat and human) and Danio rerio. The results will contribute to a better understanding of the role of mTOR in physiology and brain diseases.

Aim:

On the basis of our previous research, we hypothesize that neuronal activity causes mTOR to move to the nucleus, where it regulates the chromatin-modelling complexes and gene expression. At the same time, we hypothesize that this sequence of events is disturbed in tuberous sclerosis complex leading to epilepsy as well as disturbances in social interactions characteristic of autism spectrum diseases. The aim of the project is to verify these hypotheses.

Requirements:

  • Master's degree in biology, biochemistry or related field

  • Eligibility for PhD studies in Poland

  • Good knowledge of basics of molecular and cell biology and/or neurobiology

  • Basic hands-on experience in one of the fields: molecular & cell biology, genetic engineering, fluorescent microscopy, danio rerio animal model

  • Basic programing skills (e.g., R)

  • Written and spoken fluency in English

  • Willingness to learn and take new challenges, ability to work independently, analytical thinking

  • Good interpersonal skills and a collaborative attitude

Number of positions available: 1

Contact: Jacek Jaworski

Signaling of AXL receptor in cancer cells

Supervisor: Professor Marta Miączyńska, auxiliary supervisor Daria Zdżalik-Bielecka, PhD

Institute: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw

Laboratory: Laboratory of Cell Biology

Project description:

AXL is a tyrosine kinase receptor that upon activation by its GAS6 ligand regulates cell growth, survival, migration and invasion. Overexpression of AXL occurs in a wide variety of cancer types
and is associated with increased invasiveness and metastasis, as well as resistance of cancer cells to anticancer therapies. In our previous studies, we identified the AXL receptor interactome (a set of proteins with which the receptor interacts) and discovered that AXL binds numerous proteins that regulate actin cytoskeleton dynamics. Through such interactions, activation of AXL receptor stimulates the formation of peripheral and circular membrane ruffles that promote macropinocytosis and ultimately lead to cell invasion (see our manuscript at https://bit.ly/2QfEVpF for more details). Macropinocytosis is a form of endocytosis that allows cells to take up large volumes of extracellular fluid and the compounds dissolved within it. The macromolecules taken up through this pathway can be an important source of nutrients that fuel cancer cell growth. It has been recently proposed that macropinocytosis may also contribute to resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutics. We found that proteins in the AXL interactome may be involved in nutrient uptake by macropinocytosis. Elucidating their mechanisms of action in AXL receptor signaling will be the goal of the proposed project.

Aim:

The goal of this project is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of AXL receptor signaling that regulates cancer cell growth. Specifically, we will investigate how the AXL receptor and its ligand GAS6 stimulate uptake of nutrients from the extracellular environment via macropinocytosis.

We will also determine whether and how this phenomenon contributes to drug resistance of cancer cells and, consequently, to the growth of tumors despite the applied therapy.

Requirements:

  • Master's degree in biology, biochemistry or related field

  • Eligibility for PhD studies in Poland

  • Solid understanding of the principles of molecular and cell biology

  • Previous experience in laboratory work and familiarity with basic molecular biology techniques

  • Written and spoken fluency in English

  • Good interpersonal skills and a collaborative attitude

Number of positions available: 1

Contact: Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript., Daria Zdżalik-Bielecka

RNA-Protein Interactions in Human Health and Disease (NCN/DIOSUCRI)

Supervisor: Gracjan Michlewski, PhD, Professor

Institute: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw

Laboratory: Laboratory of RNA-Protein Interactions

Project description:

RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are key molecules that control gene expression through RNA-protein interactions. Consequently, they contribute to cellular homeostasis, normal development and majority of human diseases. Importantly, new RBPs are being discovered by high-throughput proteomics, but we still have a limited understanding of their function.

RNA viruses have caused several epidemics in the 21st century. Taking influenza A virus (IAV) infection as an exemplar, it kills 250,000 to 500,000 people annually and generates a significant global socioeconomic burden. Importantly the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic caused by an RNA virus SARS-CoV-2 continue to have catastrophic consequences on public health and world economy. Thus, a detailed molecular understanding of host-virus interactions is imperative in order to know how best to inactivate these viruses and prevent major disruptions in the future.

We have recently discovered and started characterising novel RNA binding protein – E3 ubiquitin ligase TRIM25 (Choudhury et al. 2014; Choudhury et al. 2017). TRIM25 belongs to a large family of tripartite motif-containing proteins (more than 80), most of which have E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. Many of TIRIMs are positive or negative regulators of innate immune response pathways. Importantly, TRIM25 is emerging as a key factor in the innate immune response to RNA viruses (including IAV, CoV, dengue virus and many others). Despite the essential involvement of TRIM25 in viral RNA-induced innate immunity, its RNA-binding functions are still poorly understood.

Aim:

With this project, we aim to take advantage of an assembled multi-disciplinary team to uncover the roles of the novel RNA-protein interactions in the antiviral response to selected RNA virus infections. We hypothesise that TRIM25 binds directly to viral RNAs to restrict virus propagation. We also hypothesise that other members from TRIM family bind RNA. Finally, we hypothesise that specific host RBPs bind to virus derived RNAs and inhibit or augment innate immune response. In summary, this project has the potential to make crucial contributions to understanding the innate immune response to RNA viruses and provide a platform for the development of novel, RNA-based antiviral therapeutics.

Requirements:

  • Master's degree in biology, biochemistry or related field

  • Solid knowledge of the principles of cell and molecular biology, virology or biochemistry

  • Hands-on experience in laboratory work and is familiar with basic cell and molecular biology techniques

  • Prior experience in virus handling and analysis, cell culture, mass spectrometry or bioinformatics will be an advantage

  • Proficiency in written and spoken English

  • Excellent interpersonal skills, initiative and ability to work independently and in a high-performance team

Number of positions available: 1

Contact: Gracjan Michlewski

Identifying unique adaptive responses of red pulp macrophages to iron deficiency (NCN/SONATA)

Supervisor: Wojciech Pokrzywa, PhD DSc, auxiliary supervisor, PI: Katarzyna Mleczko-Sanecka, PhD

Institute: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw

Laboratory: Laboratory of Iron Homeostasis

Project description:

Iron deficiency is a global health burden with profound socio-medical impacts, but little is known about how functions of specialized cells are affected by low systemic iron levels. Red pulp macrophages (RPMs) residing in the spleen are responsible for removing aged erythrocytes from the bloodstream. Following erythrocyte lysis, RPMs release iron to the circulation to replenish the pool of serum iron necessary for sustaining erythropoiesis. RPMs are thus critical for maintaining blood and iron homeostasis in the body. Interestingly, it was largely unknown if and how key cellular functions of RPMs are affected by low body iron status. Using a mouse model of nutritional iron deficiency, we uncovered that iron deficiency triggers specific but still elusive signaling mechanisms that modulate RPMs’ phagocytic and metabolic functions. We expect that these newly identified responses likely contribute to the adaptation of the whole organism to limited iron supplies. Within our project, we apply both in vivo and in vitro approaches to decipher the molecular mechanism responsible for the adaptive functional ‘rewiring’ of RPMs in iron deficiency and determine their physiological role for the whole organism. The new knowledge generated by this research is expected to significantly advance our understanding of an organism’s adaptation to iron deficiency.

Aim:

We aim to comprehensively characterize the functional adaptation of RPMs to iron deficiency and identify its molecular triggers. We also plan to determine how this ‘rewiring’ affects RPMs’ inflammatory status. We will explore how the abrogation of this ‘adaptation program’ affects the organism, including iron and blood homeostasis. To this end, we will create and characterize new conditional knock-out mice characterized by specific suppression of the RPMs’ adaptation to low iron conditions.

Requirements:

  • Master's degree in biology, biochemistry or related field

  • Eligibility for PhD studies in Poland

  • Interests in molecular aspects of physiology, motivation for experimental work, passion for science, hands-on experience in laboratory work

  • Experience in mouse/rat-based studies or willingness to work with animals

  • Written and spoken fluency in English

  • Willingness to learn and take new challenges, ability to work independently, analytical thinking

  • Good interpersonal skills and a collaborative attitude.

  • Research achievements (eg, publications or manuscripts in preparation) and experience abroad will be of advantage

Number of positions available: 2

Contact: Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.