Sox genes and oligodendrocyte lineage cells in the neuroendocrine system: central control of growth and reproduction

Key information

Application close date
07 February 2023, 11:59 GMT
Hours per week
36 (full time)
Application guidance
Posted 22 December 2022

Research topics

Developmental Biology Gene Expression Genetics & Genomics Imaging Metabolism Model Organisms Neurosciences Stem Cells
Background texture taken from the lab imagery.

This is a summer student position supervised by Richard Clayton from Robin Lovell-Badge's lab. 

Introduction to the Science

Our lab is interested in the development and specification of stem cells, the associated underlying gene-regulatory networks, and the behaviour and function of stem cells in adult tissues. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are a type of glial stem cell in the central nervous system. OPCs (also known as NG2-glia) differentiate into myelin-producing oligodendrocytes, in a process that is essential for the normal function of neurons. In addition to producing oligodendrocytes, we think that OPCs also directly interact with, and regulate, many different cell types in the brain.

In particular, we are interested in the role that OPCs (and oligodendrocytes) may play in regulating the function of the hypothalamus – specifically, in a region called the median eminence. The median eminence controls the secretion of important hormones from the pituitary gland, and the proper functioning of this hypothalamic-pituitary axis is essential for many normal bodily processes, including growth, reproduction, stress, lactation, and metabolism. In the clinic, deficiencies in pituitary hormones are referred to as hypopituitarism, and we think that this may sometimes be caused by problems with the normal function of these glial progenitor cells and their progeny.

About the Project

The broad aim of this project is to characterise changes in hormone levels and oligodendrocyte lineage cells in various genetic and experimental mouse models of neuroendocrine disorders (including Sox gene mutants). This will contribute to a broader understanding of the role of oligodendrocyte lineage cells in health and disease. The main methodologies you will use will be ‘wet lab’ techniques, including tissue dissection, microtomy, immunofluorescence, in situ hybridization, confocal microscopy and ELISA. There may also be the opportunity for you to use bioinformatics to look at RNA sequencing data.

About You

This project would be suited to anyone with an interest in neuroscience, stem cell biology, genetics and neuroendocrinology. Ideally, you will be studying biology, biomedical science, medicine or similar. It is essential that you are highly motivated, eager to learn, and communicative.

References

1.         Kohnke, S., Buller, S., Nuzzaci, D., Ridley, K., Lam, B., Pivonkova, H., . . . Blouet, C. (2021)

            Nutritional regulation of oligodendrocyte differentiation regulates perineuronal net remodeling in the median eminence.

            Cell Reports 36: 109362. PubMed abstract

2.         Djogo, T., Robins, S.C., Schneider, S., Kryzskaya, D., Liu, X., Mingay, A., . . . Kokoeva, M.V. (2016)

            Adult NG2-glia are required for median eminence-mediated leptin sensing and body weight control.

            Cell Metabolism 23: 797-810. PubMed abstract