The Journal of Cell Science has interviewed former Ludwig Oxford PhD student Norbert Volkmar as part of their “First Person” features. Norbert, a former graduate student from John Christianson’s lab, recently published his PhD research on the ER membrane protein complex in the journal. Norbert and other members of the Christianson group discovered that this complex is required for the correct synthesis of two important proteins that control the levels of cholesterol in the cell.
Cancer metastasis is the primary cause of cancer-related death but it is unclear why cancer cells migrate away from the original tumour site. In this review in Cell Metabolism, Ludwig Oxford’s Colin Goding and Custodia García-Jimenéz (Madrid) propose that invasive behaviour in cancer is caused either by nutrient or oxygen limitation within the tumour, or by signals from immune cells or therapy that hijack the cell’s starvation response to impose a pseudo-starvation state. By explaining how many apparently unrelated triggers for invasion converge on a single cell survival strategy, similar from bacteria to man, the authors identify a therapeutic vulnerability in invasive cancer cells.
On 13-14th December 2018, Ludwig Oxford had its Annual Retreat at Milton Hill House, near Abingdon. The two day event featured a varied programme of scientific talks, poster sessions, scientific communication exercises and public engagement activity brainstorming plus time to socialise with colleagues at the Institute Christmas lunch. ...
Ludwig Cancer Research is currently recruiting exceptional students for fully funded four year cancer-focussed DPhil projects commencing in October 2019. The studentships provide a tax-free bursary of £18,000, college and university fees and are open to students of any nationality. The studentships are available via the NDM Prize Studentship Competition and applications must be completed on the University of Oxford graduate application system by 12 noon UK time on 11th January 2019.
Hypoxia, a low level of oxygen, is sensed within cells by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which binds to DNA to induce the expression of multiple hypoxia response genes. There are two types of HIF, HIF-1 and HIF-2, which recognise the same short DNA sequence found many times throughout the genome. Investigation by James Smythies and Min Sun from David Mole’s and Ludwig Oxford’s Peter Ratcliffe’s labs discovered discrete binding patterns of these factors to a selection of these target DNA sequences. These findings, published in EMBO Reports, reinforce the idea that HIF-1 and HIF-2 function independently in response to hypoxia and open the possibility of therapeutically targeting one HIF type to modulate a distinct activity, for example in cancer.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are key factors in coordinating cellular responses to low oxygen levels (hypoxia) such as those frequently found in tumours. Factor inhibiting HIF (FIH) represses HIF when oxygen levels are normal. This study aimed to understand more about the regulation of HIF by FIH, in particular the effect of FIH location within the cell. Using fluorescence microscopy, Yihua Wang from Ludwig Oxford’s Xin Lu’s and Peter Ratcliffe’s labs studied the dynamics of FIH cellular localisation after hypoxia. Their results, published in The Journal of Cell Science, show that FIH accumulates in the nucleus for a short time soon after hypoxia treatment and that nuclear import and export are controlled by HIF1α and exportin1 respectively.
Registration is now open for the EMBO workshop on Pathogen immunity and signalling to be held at Keble College, Oxford, UK from 1st-5th April 2019. The meeting, co-organised by Ludwig Oxford researcher Mads Gyrd-Hansen, will focus on the immune response to infectious micro-organisms including pattern-recognition receptors, ubiquitin signalling and cytokines. Abstract submission deadline is 8th December.
Three students from Ludwig Oxford have won NDM Graduate Student prizes for 2018. Marketa Tomkova was highly commended in the overall category for her work on DNA mutations in cancer. Linxin Li was the 4th year prize winner for his impressive publication record and Michael White also received a 4th year prize for his translational research into Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer. Congratulations to all winners!
Ludwig Oxford’s Chunxiao Song has recently been granted a CRUK-OHSU Project Award for his work on early cancer detection using liquid biopsies. Together with Thuy Ngo at Oregon Health and Science University, Chunxiao will measure epigenetic and transcriptomic information in cell-free DNA and RNA respectively. He hopes these technologies will enable a new blood-based test for cancer. Read his interview with CRUK here.
Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition associated with gastric reflux that increases the chance of developing oesophageal cancer by 30-fold. A key question is how Barrett’s oesophagus arises from normal gastrointestinal tissue. However, because there are several different types of cells within Barrett’s oesophagus, research into the cellular origins of this tissue is difficult. To overcome this challenge, Ludwig Oxford’s Richard Owen, Michael White and David Severson from Xin Lu’s and Benjamin Schuster-Böckler’s labs performed single cell RNA sequencing on patient biopsies from Barrett’s and normal oesophagus. Their results, published in Nature Communications, show that a cell population in Barrett’s oesophagus had most similarity to normal oesophageal submucosal gland cells. This finding has implications for the clinical diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus.