We are a highly motivated, international team of researchers belonging to the Molecular Neurogenomics Group at the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology, looking for an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher to join our lab for 2 years (with possibilities for extension).
One of the main topics of our lab is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying peripheral neuropathies caused by dominant mutations in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. This field of research stems from our findings that mutations in the tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (YARS, TyrRS), similarly to defects in five other synthetases, cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), the most common inherited peripheral neuropathy (Jordanova et al., Nature Genetics, 2006). We established that the CMT neuropathy is not due to haploinsufficiency of YARS enzymatic activity, but to a gain-of-function alteration of the mutant protein and/or interference with non-canonical functions of the wild type protein. Recent findings of our lab using a Drosophila model revealed that YARS acts as a transcriptional regulator in the nucleus, in addition to its protein synthesis role in the cytoplasm, and this function is impaired in the CMT disease (Bervoets et al., Nat Communications, 2019). Furthermore, genetic modifier screens in our flies point towards a putative involvement of the cytoskeleton in the neurodegenerative process. This finding will represent the starting point of the postdoctoral study. The successful candidate will apply a combination of genetic, cell biology and biochemistry techniques in both flies and mammalian cells (including iPSC-derived patient motoneurons) to address the involvement of cytoskeleton in the YARS-, and possibly other, tRNA synthetase-associated peripheral neuropathies.
As part of the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology and VIB, the postdoctoral candidate will benefit from established collaborations and access to centralized facilities with expertise in functional genomics and cell biology, proteomics, microscopy, structural biology, technology development, and bioinformatics. VIB provides a highly interactive environment and ample training opportunities for its researchers. In addition, the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology is located in the city of Antwerp, the capital of Flanders, offering a culturally and historically rich, and ethnically diverse environment.
Postdoctoral candidates are expected to have: