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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

PhD Studentship: Mechanisms of generation and functional significance of novel isoforms of the two-pore domain potassium channel family

Published: 6 April 2011

Supervisors: Dr M Coldwell (School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences); Dr I O’Kelly (Human Genetics Division, Faculty of Medicine)

We are looking for an enthusiastic postgraduate student to take up a prestigious 3 year PhD studentship in ion channel biology and eukaryotic gene expression, funded jointly by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust and the University of Southampton.
The generation of diverse protein isoforms from a limited number of genes disproves the original one gene = one mRNA = one protein hypothesis. Regulation of gene expression is key to this process, with alternative promoters, splicing and translation initiation all capable of generating such diversity. Two-pore domain potassium (K2P) channels (encoded by KCNK genes) are a family of background ion channels which utilise all three mechanisms of gene expression to generate channels with alternative or modified functions.
Our interests lie in members of the KCNK family that may be translated from alternative initiation codons which would extend or truncate the open reading frame N-terminally. We aim to elucidate the function, localisation and mechanisms of expression of such alternative isoforms. Determining the relative expression of channel isoforms in different tissue types will inform on their physiological relevance and their transcription and translation will be examined as part of a wider project to determine how alternative translation initiation creates proteome diversity.
The successful applicant will receive training in cell biology, molecular biology and electrophysiology in state-of-the-art facilities, both at the University’s Highfield Campus in the new Life Sciences Building, and within the Faculty of Medicine, based at Southampton General Hospital. These research environments are rated as world leading or internationally excellent and extensive general and specialised training will also be provided by the Graduate Schools.

Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second class Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry or related disciplines and laboratory experience in molecular biology and cell culture techniques. An academic background in gene expression or cell biology is desirable.

Funding Notes:

This is a three year studentship and is jointly funded by the University of Southampton and the Gerald Kerkut Trust.

Application Deadline: Friday 29th April

Contact Details:
Applications should be made through the University of Southampton Website
Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Mark Coldwell at

References :

Mant et al., (2011) J Biol Chem (In press)
Coldwell and Morley (2006) Mol Cell Biol 26:8448-60
Burdakov et al., (2006) Neuron 50:711-22
Coldwell et al., (2004) J Cell Sci 117:2545-55.
O'Kelly and Goldstein (2008) Traffic 9:72-8.
O'Kelly et al., (2002) Cell 111:577-88.
O'Kelly et al., (2000) J Biol Chem 275:7684-92.

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