Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health

Category: Standard Studentships

How do human cells maintain their size?

Project No. 2430


Primary Supervisor

Prof Helfrid Hochegger – University of Sussex


Dr Mark Willet – University of Southampton

Dr Karen Yuen – University of Southampton


Cell growth and division are fundamental to life.

The balance between these processes ensures size homeostasis across cells, yet the mechanisms that maintain cell size are not fully understood, especially in higher eukaryotic cells. The purpose of this project will be to explore how cell growth, ie the production of new proteins, affect the timing of cell division in human cells. Our preliminary data suggest a strong impact of ribosome biogenesis on the cell division process. The main aim of this PhD project will be to further investigate this novel link between ribosome production and the decision to enter mitosis. We will use genome editing techniques to engineer cell lines in which ribosome production can be rapidly switched off and analyse how this impacts progression into and through mitosis using advanced microscopy techniques. Subsequently we will use proteomic analysis to unpick the precise changes in mitotic cell signalling that causes the observed changes in cell division dynamics. Ultimately these data will reveal how the growth control pathway impacts on the completion of the cell cycle and the production of two daughter cells that are neither too small or too large.

Unravelling this mechanism will have important implications on our basic understanding of how cells proliferate. Moreover, cell proliferation and cell division are key areas of interest in cancer therapy and identifying a novel pathway in this area may also allow us to open additional avenues for therapeutic intervention.

We are looking for a highly motivated student with a background in cell and molecular biology to take up this exciting project.