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PhD position available in RNA biology : Deciphering the biogenesis of the Signal Recognition Particle (SRP), and its connection with ribosome biogenesis and nucleolar structure.

UMR 7365 IMoPA

fundamental roles played by RNPs in cells, it is essential to understand how they are produced. The PhD project is dedicated to the study of the biogenesis of the signal recognition particle SRP, which is crucial for the synthesis of membrane and secretory proteins. The mechanism of SRP biogenesis is far from being understood. The group of S. Massenet has identified the survival of motor neuron (SMN) complex as being required for this process. Remarkably, apart from the SMN complex, no other factors involved in the biogenesis of SRP have been identified yet. The assembly of SRP largely takes place in the nucleolus, which is also the place where the initial steps of ribosome synthesis occur. The reason why SRP assembles in the nucleolus is unclear. It may benefit from the assembly machinery located there, which is mainly dedicated to ribosome production.

The candidate will decipher the various steps of SRP biogenesis and explore the role in this process of the SMN complex, using various methods of molecular and cellular biology such as stable cell line construction, siRNA transfection, in vitro transcription, affinity purification, glycerol gradient analysis, immunofluorescence, Northern-blot and FISH. New factors important for SRP biogenesis will be identified 1) by using a large-scale visual screening to detect proteins whose absence leads to a defect in SRP biogenesis, and 2) by identifying SRP proteome by quantitative mass spectrometry (SILAC analysis after IP).

The PhD candidate will distribute his/her time between the University of Lorraine and the University of Brussels (BioPark campus, Gosselies). The two PhD supervisors will work very closely and take collectively the scientific decisions. The work of S. Massenet is focused on the biogenesis of non-coding RNPs. She has mainly worked on the function of the SMN complex in these processes. She is part of the team “RNA, RNP, maturation-structure-function” of the IMoPA lab (UMR 7365, CNRS-University of Lorraine, see and The global research of the team aims to provide information on the assembly processes of non-coding RNP particles in cells, to study the factors involved, and the consequences in cells of a defect in these processes. The team of D. Lafontaine (University of Brussels, F.R.S./FNRS, see is studying fundamental molecular and cellular aspects of ribosome biogenesis and the pathophysiological consequences of ribosome assembly dysfunctions. More recently, the team has performed several high throughput screenings in human cells aimed at the identification of novel ribosome assembly factors and contributors to nucleolar structure maintenance (see e.g. The team has established a high throughput screening pipeline (siRNAs, a specific computer code was developed) directly amenable to this project. The SILAC-IP will be performed in collaboration with Céline Verheggen (IGMM, CNRS-Montpellier University, see

The applicant must hold a master degree (or equivalent) in cellular biology, molecular biology or related field. He/She is expected to have a strong background in RNA biology. A solid experience with cell and molecular biology techniques (RNA isolation and handling, IF, IP, cell culture and transfection) will be essential. Knowledge of imaging techniques is not a strict requirement but will be appreciated. The candidate should be highly motivated, hard at work, easy-going, rigorous, able to conduct independent research, but also enjoys interacting with colleagues. The candidate must be willing and capable of working with two different teams in two countries during his/her phD.


For further information, please contact Séverine Massenet at Deadline for application: April 15, 2019. Please provide a full CV, a cover letter, two reference letters, and a copy of the grades obtained during the master degree.


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University of Lorraine (Nancy, France) and University of Brussels (Belgium)
environ 1400 euros net/mois
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