The Cell Migration laboratory, in the department of Cell Biology at Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland), is seeking a highly motivated PhD student to join the group. The initial grant is for one year (2000 €/month) with possibility for a two year extension and the starting date is negotiable. The project is related to work investigating the role of filopodia and other cellular protrusions during cancer progression.

Breast cancer cells invading collectively through a collagen gel
The candidate

The applicant will have an MSc in a relevant cell biology field, previous hands-on experience with cell culture, transfections, western blotting, microscopy and image analysis (in particular ImageJ) and excellent communication skills. We expect the applicant to be highly motivated and to conduct academic research to a high standard. Prior experience in the cell adhesion / cell cytoskeleton field will be highly appreciated.

Project Description

There is a pressing need to develop strategies that block cancer cell dissemination and metastasis, the primary cause of death in patients with solid tumours. The aim of this PhD project is to gain fundamental insight into how filopodia, specialized protrusions used by cells to explore their immediate surroundings, drive cancer progression and, ultimately, to identify new lines of therapeutic intervention. In tumours of epithelial origin, cancer cell dissemination begins following local cell invasion through a basement membrane into the surrounding stroma. We discovered that i) cancer cells extend filopodia during local invasion, ii) filopodia formation correlates with disease progression, iii) filopodia are very abundant both at cell-cell and cell-ECM interfaces as cancer cells invade collectively and iv) cancer cells exploit filopodia at later stages of disease when interacting with the vasculature in vivo.

This PhD project will provide a fundamental step forward in unravelling the molecular mechanisms by which filopodia sense environmental cues and how the information is relayed from individual filopodia to the cell body. To achieve this aim, the student will employ cutting-edge mass spectrometry and imaging techniques including a novel proximity-based biotinylation approach and high to super-resolution imaging, in conjunction with state-of-the-art cancer cell biology and in vivo cancer models.

Training Outcomes:

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr. G. Jacquemet. The student will receive extensive training in mass spectrometry approaches, various microscopy modalities including live cell-imaging and super-resolution microscopy and in advanced image analysis. The student will also receive training in scientific writing, data presentation and effective communication. The student will have access to the state-of-the-art facilities available at Turku Bioscience Centre (https://bioscience.fi/).

To apply:

Application period is 26.08.2019 – 01.10.2019. Please apply by sending an e-mail to guillaume.jacquemet {at} abo.fi . Please remember to include “applicant – Filopodia PhD” as the subject of your e-mail.

Please include in your application the following items:
1) a CV including list of publications and
2) a personal motivation letter (max one page)

Selection will take place in early October and all applicants will be informed of the decision in due course.

For More information, please contact guillaume.jacquemet {at} utu.fi

Related published work:

Jacquemet G., Stubb A., Saup R., Miihkinen M., Kremneva E., Hamidi H. and Ivaska J. Filopodome mapping identifies p130Cas as a mechanosensitive regulator of filopodia stability. Curr Biol. 29(2), 202-216. 2019.

Jacquemet G., Paatero I., Carisey A., Padzik A., Orange J., Hamidi H. and Ivaska J. FiloQuant reveals increased filopodia density during DCIS progression. J. Cell Biol. 216(10):3387-3403. 2017.

Jacquemet G., Baghirov H., Georgiadou M., Sihto H., Peuhu E., Cettour-Janet P., He T., Perälä M., Kronqvist P., Joensuu H., and Ivaska J. L-type calcium channels regulate filopodia stability and cancer cell invasion downstream of Integrin signalling. Nat Commun. 7:13297. 2016.

Jacquemet G., Hamidi H., and Ivaska J. Filopodia in cell adhesion, 3D migration and cancer cell invasion. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 36:23–31. 2015.

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