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BBSRC-Funded Studentship: Regulation and function of chromatin domains

last modified Dec 06, 2016 09:49 AM

Regulation and function of chromatin domains

A BBSRC DTP targeted PhD studentship is available to study the regulation and function of chromatin domains in the laboratory of Professor Julie Ahringer.

Eukaryotic genomes are organized into chromatin domains of differing structure. Chromatin domain structure affects gene expression and alterations to structure have been associated with human disease, however, our understanding of how domains form and function is poor. To uncover general principles of genome domain organization, we study this process in the genetically tractable model organism C. elegans. In recent work, we discovered that the genome is organized into extended chromatin domains of either stable or regulated gene activity, enriched for H3K36me3 or H3K27me3 respectively (Evans et al, 2016). The border regions between domains contain large intergenic regions and a high density of transcription factor binding, suggesting a role for transcription regulation in separating chromatin domains. Despite the differences in cell types, overall domain organization is remarkably similar in across development, indicating that this organization is a fundamental property of the genome. This PhD project aims to investigate the formation and function of chromatin domains. This will involve screens for factors that control domain formation and subsequent study of identified factors. Additionally, CRISPR/Cas9 technology will be used to delete or move border and other sequences to test their functions in controlling domain structure and gene expression. The project will involve techniques such as RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome engineering, and RNAi screening, phenotypic analyses, and computational analyses.

In addition to the primary PhD research, the student will participate in the Cambridge BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme.  

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years. This studentship is available to start on 1 October 2017.  

Eligibility: Applicants should hold or be about to achieve a First or Upper-Second (2.i) class degree in a relevant subject. BBSRC studentships are available to UK nationals and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Further details can be found at the following link

Further enquiries should be made to Professor Julie Ahringer (


Applications should be made by email to Professor Julie Ahringer ( by sending a covering letter describing your research interests and why you are applying for this PhD position, along with your CV including the names of two or three individuals who can be contacted for a reference. 


The deadline for applications is 19 December 2016.


Evans, K.J., Huang, N., Stempor, P., Chesney, M.A., Down, T.A., and Ahringer, J.  (2016) Stable C. elegans chromatin domains separate broadly expressed and developmentally regulated genes, PNAS, 113, E7020–E7029, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608162113.