The Notch signalling pathway governs metazoan development, as Notch receptors and their cognate ligands submit decisions of cell fates between neighbouring cells and thereby regulate the development of organisms. The Notch pathway is among the most important pathways during developmental processes. In the adult system it is of great significance for different biological processes such as the maintenance of stem cells or in angiogenic processes. Further, the malregulation of Notch has been observed in multiple types of diseases and it seems to contribute to the survival and tumorigenesis of numerous cancer types, e.g. brain tumors.
In a recent work (Schmidt et al., Nat Cell Biol, 2009), we identified the secreted molecule Epidermal Growth Factor-like protein 7 (EGFL7) as a novel inhibitor of Notch signalling in neural stem cells (NSC). Maintenance of NSC cultured depends on the interaction of the receptor Notch1 and its ligand Jagged1. EGFL7 most potently abrogated this interaction and decreased Notch signalling, thereby reducing the self-renewal potential of NSC. Further, EGFL7 promoted the differentiation of neural stem cells into neurons and mature oligodendrocytes on the expense of astrocytes. However, EGFL7’s effects are not restricted to the NSC model but it functions in various cells, tissues and biological paradigms in and outside of the brain.
The members of my newly founded research group Molecular Signal Transduction analyze the role and functions of EGFL7 and Notch pathway components in angiogenesis (blood vessel formation), neurogenesis (neuron formation) and brain tumorigenesis (brain tumor formation). Especially, we focus on the molecular events that occur at the Notch ligand-receptor interface and the signalling pathways they trigger. We do so by the application of a broad panel of molecular biological and protein biochemical techniques as well as by the use of animal models.
For our energetic and dynamic team we are looking for a highly motivated young scientist to choose a project related to the analyses described above. You have studied a topic in the field of life sciences (e.g. biochemistry, biology, biotechnology etc.) and you are curious about working on questions of molecular signal transduction in health and disease. Further, you want to collect lots of hands-on-experience in the lab by learning a broad panel of techniques. Last, you like to interact with the other team members and harbor the general wish to contribute to the cure of patients.
If this describes you, drop an email with your questions or your application file to
Prof. Dr. Mirko HH Schmidt
Research group “Molecular Signal Transduction”
Institute for Microscopic Anatomy and Neurobiology
University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz