Exploring how arginine methylation impacts on DNA repair.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences


The genome is constantly being challenged with exogenous and endogenous stresses that induce DNA lesions that must be repaired to maintain genomic stability. An inability to do so leads to mutagenic events that predispose individuals to numerous pathological conditions, including cancer and neurological dysfunction.
Dynamic regulation of protein function via post-translational modifications is an incredibly importantly regulator of the DNA damage response. Whilst this has been increasingly appreciated for protein phosphorylation and ubiquitination, other less-well characterised modifications have recently been shown to be equally important.
One such modification is the methylation of arginine residues, and whilst this modification was recognised more than 40 years ago, it is only with the recent identification of the enzymes that catalyse these reactions, PRMTs, that we are starting to understand the significance of arginine methylation for the DNA damage response. One way in which to explore this is through the identification of novel substrates. Recently, my laboratory has described PRMT5 as an essential component of the DNA damage response and the repair of double strand breaks through the methylation of RUVBL1 (Clarke et al., Molecular Cell, 2017). However, because different types of DNA damage require distinct pathways for repair, it is highly likely that PRMT5 is methylating other substrates in a DNA damage-dependent manner, or that histones themselves are subjected to modification.

This PhD project will further explore how arginine methylation impacts on the DNA repair process. This is a very exciting time for the field of arginine methylation as small molecular compounds that target specific PRMTs are in development. Hence, a better understanding of PRMTs during the DNA damage response may discover novel strategies in which to treat cancer or neurological disease.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2098547 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Nicole McFadzean