Shining a bright light on skin pigmentation: the role of LC3-associated phagocytosis in melanosome uptake


The epidermis serves several key functions in maintaining human health. The production of the skin pigment, melanin, is triggered in response to UV light and serves to protect the skin from UV-induced DNA damage that causes premature ageing and predisposes to skin cancer. Autophagy (which means “self-eating”) is an essential cellular process that involves the degradation and recycling of damaged or defective proteins or organelles in times of relative starvation (1). In the context of skin health, the maturation and trafficking of melanin-containing vesicles (melanosomes) in the melanocyte is known to be dependent upon the expression of a key autophagy protein, UVRAG (2). This project will address a key question in the pigment cell research field i.e. how are melanosomes internalised and trafficked in skin keratinocytes?

We are looking for an ambitious, committed and highly motivated individual to examine the role of autophagy pathways in the skin using genetic mouse models (3). In the project you will be trained in a range of molecular/cell biological approaches including primary cell isolation, qPCR, Western Blotting, immunohistochemistry, live cell confocal microscopy, flow cytometry and proteomics.

You will join a collaborative team of researchers in the Morris and Wileman groups that are addressing broader questions about skin homeostasis and the role of autophagy in human health and disease. The project will involve studies at UEA ( and the Quadrum Institute (


(Nature (2008) 451 7182; 1069-1075

(PNAS (2018) 115, 33; E7728-E7737

Autophagy (2019) 15, 4; 599-612