MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs ~22nt in length known to play a pivotal role in the regulation of gene expression in animals. They bind to their targets by Watson-Crick base pairing, leading to translational inhibition, deadenylation, and eventual mRNA degradation. Some viruses can also encode miRNA sequences which are processed by their hosts on infection.
These miRNAs can either regulate the viral lifecycle or disrupt host gene expression e.g. by downregulating key genes in the antiviral immune response. At present, very few viral miRNAs have been characterised and studied in detail. Characterisation and understanding of these important regulators is therefore of great importance in the study of human and animal disease.
This studentship will use a combination of cutting-edge molecular and computational biology in order to classify viral miRNAs on an unparalleled scale. The project is cross-disciplinary and suitable for graduates in either computing or biological sciences. The student will receive full training in relevant laboratory and bioinformatic techniques including miRNA prediction, data analysis, and programming throughout the PhD programme.