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Characterisation of a novel protein linked to immune responses and cancer


An effective immune response requires the cooperation of numerous cell types to eradicate the responsible pathogen. One of the key cells involved is the antibody producing plasma cell. Antibodies are secreted proteins that directly bind to infectious particles to direct their removal. In order for the body to make large amounts of antibody, plasma cells have to be generated from a precursor cell known as a B-cell. B-cells change into plasma cells in a step-wise fashion controlled by a set of proteins termed transcription factors including one called BLIMP1. Sometimes this process goes wrong and can result in the generation of B-cell tumours. The Doody-Tooze laboratory at the University of Leeds have developed a novel tissue culture model for studying the process of plasma cell generation from human B cells. Using this unique system, they have been investigating how the BLIMP1 protein functions and how it might contribute to establishing B-cell cancers. Using the cutting-edge technology RNA-sequencing, they have identified a new version of BLIMP1 RNA. The aim of this project would be to verify the existence of the new protein derived from this RNA, to characterize its expression pattern and to assay its function by using a number of important laboratory research techniques including RT-PCR.