Studentship | How does ubiquitin signalling help cells cope with stress?

MRC Funded
Project with

infection and inflammation and proteotoxic stress. In order to survive, cells have evolved adaptive strategies to rapidly and efficiently respond to stresses and repair any damage caused thereby restoring homeostasis. The Kulathu lab studies how posttranslational modification of proteins with monoubiquitin or different polyubiquitin chains alters protein function to signal distinct responses in cells. A new type of ubiquitin signal has been discovered recently that contains branched ubiquitin structures. These branched heterotypic ubiquitin signals are dynamically made in cells and play important roles in maintaining cellular homeostasis. Mechanistically, the functions of these branched chains have not been elucidated because of the complex nature of these modifications and the lack of ways to study them. The aim of this project will be to dissect how distinct branched heterotypic signals are formed in cells in response to stress and serve to trigger stress response pathways.

Students who like to work on challenging questions, enjoy method development and establishing new techniques will be suited for this project. The student will get the opportunity to employ a highly multidisciplinary approach, with techniques including protein engineering, structural biology, quantitative proteomics and single cell analyses. The PhD student will be responsible for an independent project and will benefit from working closely with more experienced members of the lab.



1. Kristariyanto Y et al. 2015 Molecular Cell 58(1): 83-94

2. Haakonsen DL, Rape M. 2019 Trends Cell Bio 29(9):704-716


At the MRC PPU, as well as the possibility of a PhD in one particular lab, we offer the possibility of two 4.5-month rotations in labs of their choice. A range of other projects from MRC PPU scientists are advertised on this website. Rotations provide valuable experience and help with deciding on the choice of PhD project and research group.


Please send a CV with contact details of three referees to and a cover letter, explaining why you have chosen to apply to MRC PPU, to The closing date for applications is 15th November 2021. We will chat with long-listed applicants by Zoom in November/December 2021 to select candidates to take forward. Interviews will take place in January 2022. Applications from overseas students are welcome.

Application Procedure

Should you wish to apply for the above PhD position, please send a CV with contact details of three referees to and a cover letter explaining why you have chosen to apply: