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Bristol team shares grant for cutting edge biological research

Part of a human cell nucleus. Green fluorescence shows nuclear F-actin and the coloured image is a map representing the states of genome (chromatin) packaging.

4 April 2016

An international research team comprising scientists from the Universities of Bristol, Marburg (Germany) and Kinki (Japan) has been awarded a grant from the 2016 Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP).

The award, made after a rigorous year-long selection process, is designed to promote cutting edge research into complex biological systems.

The team, comprising the laboratories of Professor Robert Grosse (Marburg), Dr Abderrahmane Kaidi (Bristol) and Dr Kei Miyamoto (Kikni), has been awarded $1.05 million (approx. £740,000) for a three-year study on the role of nuclear filamentous-actin (F-actin) in regulating genome organisation and function.

Dr Kaidi said: “Within the cytoplasm of a cell, F-actin forms fibrous dynamic structures, which provide a delicate cellular framework and control a range a biological functions such as cell movement and muscle contraction. The existence of this form of F-actin in the nucleus of mammalian somatic cells has been debated for decades.

“Thanks to new advancements in cell imaging techniques, nuclear F-actin can be detected in cell nucleus in specific conditions, which raises the possibility that it may regulate genome organisation and function. This HFSP award will focus on testing this hypothesis and applying this knowledge to further understand fundamental biological processes, including genome organisation during cell division and cellular reprogramming.”

The research will apply state-of-the art optogenetic tools for spatial and temporal control of nuclear F-actin, and simultaneously visualise genome dynamics in intact cells using cutting-edge cell imaging techniques.

As part of this research, Dr Kaidi’s laboratory is developing and applying the microscopy-based assays for quantitative analysis of genome/chromatin dynamics. The project will benefit greatly from the University of Bristol research infrastructures available at the Wolfson Bioimaging and the Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information.

Dr Kaidi said: "The Nuclear Dynamics Laboratory at the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine is recently established, and, is currently funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. This new award from HFSP will further enable research of this lab into understanding the principals that regulate nuclear structure and genome/chromatin organisation in health and disease.”

Further information

The Human Frontier Science Program is an international program of research support implemented by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), based in Strasbourg, France. Its aims are to promote intercontinental collaboration and training in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research focused on the life sciences. The program has awarded 32 winning teams of the 2016 competition for the HFSP Research Grants. Out of 871 proposals submitted, seven Young Investigator Grants and 25 Program Grants were approved for funding.

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