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Open Position – PhD Student: Molecular mechanism of mitochondrial transfer in cancer

published: 21.11.2017

Background

In our previous work we established that cells devoid of mitochondrial DNA cannot form tumors in mice, unless they acquire mitochondrial DNA by the transfer of whole mitochondria from the stroma of the host animal (Tan et al. Mitochondrial genome acquisition restores respiratory function and tumorigenic potential in cancer cells without mitochondrial DNA. Cell Metab 2015, 21, 81-94; Dong et al. Horizontal transfer of whole mitochondria recovers tumorigenic potential in mtDNA-deficient cells. eLife 2017, 6, e22187). This suggests that functional mitochondria are essential for tumorigenesis and indicates that cancer cells have the means to ‘steal’ mitochondria from the surrounding stroma.

Project

In the current project, we will characterise more closely the mechanism by which this mitochondrial theft occurs. In particular, we will evaluate the role of the mitochondrial motor-adaptor complex (Miro/Milton/kinesin) by a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches. Using genetic modifications, we will characterise the transfer of mitochondria via tunnelling nanotubes between cells in vitro and develop a mouse model (Miro1 conditional knockout mouse) to evaluate this process in vivo.

Laboratory

Laboratory of Molecular Therapy, headed by Prof. Jiri Neuzil, is an established research laboratory with excellent publication track record. We focus on mitochondria in the context of cancer, and on devising strategies to eliminate specific subsets of cancer cells by mitochondrial targeting. We are located in the new state- of-the-art BIOCEV research centre.

Qualification

Applicants should have background in biochemistry, physiology, molecular or cell biology. We seek a highly motivated, creative person, with strong interest in solving scientific problems.

Contact

For more information please contact Jakub Rohlena  – jakub.rohlena@ibt.cas.cz or Jiri Neuzil – jiri.neuzil@ibt.cas.cz