Projects

We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

27 / 09 / 2018

Utilizing single cell genomics to understand the complexity of the human placenta (MONK_U19DTP)

how to apply

Within all tissues, cells differ in the way their genomes are regulated to activate genes. This is the basis of epigenetic regulation. Despite all cell of an individual having identical DNA, the interpretation of the genetic sequence makes them unique and ultimately regulates their differentiation. In complex organisms such as the human, cell-type heterogeneity is extensive and is only just being unravelled using single-cell genomics. Understanding this diversity is crucial to appreciating tissue function in healthy and disease conditions.

 In this project we will utilize state-of-the-art technologies, which combined with bioinformatic analysis, will allow for the simultaneous characterization of both expression and DNA methylation in single cells of the placenta. The placenta is an exceptional tissue: it is transitory, regulating fetal growth and maternal communications for the length of pregnancy. It is also unique in that it has a relatively hypomethylated genome compared to all other tissues, a feature we believe allows it to adapt to adverse conditions. Single-cell transcriptomics will allow us to resolve the heterogeneity that exists in this tissue and shed light on the relationship between transcriptome state and cellular phenotype. Furthermore, by assessing hundreds to thousands of individual cells, the expression signatures will allow for tissue decomposition at ultra-high resolution, giving rise to valuable cell-specific markers. These expression profiles will be directly compared to the underlying DNA methylation profile within each cell, which will result in an invaluable resource for biomarkers for future studies of complicated pregnancies.