PhD Position in Dynamic epigenetic regulation of leptin gene expression during positive and negative energy balance

The researchers in the DFG-funded Graduiertenkolleg 1957 study the effects of adipose tissue hormones on CNS function and in turn, the control of adipose tissue physiology by the brain. We are looking for highly motivated candidates for the PhD project (see title).
Tentative start: May 2020. Earlier start date could be discussed with the PIs in the interview.

Activities and responsibilities

Project Description:

Leptin is an adipocyte derived hormone that regulates glucose and energy homeostasis by binding to its receptor in the brain. A key function of leptin is to signal the brain the amount of peripheral fat, which in turn leads to centrally mediated adaptation of food intake and energy expenditure. Thus, quantitative changes in leptin expression in relation to the current energy status are crucial for this adipocyte-brain-crosstalk. Human and murine studies have shown that leptin mRNA and plasma concentrations tightly correlate with the number and lipid content of adipocytes. Surprisingly, the precise regulation of leptin gene expression in response to physiologic stimuli is not well studied. Over and under abundance of nutrients are associated with changes in DNA methylation and therefore it is plausible that altered DNA-methylation, triggered by nutrient availability, could quantitatively regulated leptin gene expression. We want to find out if leptin mRNA is regulated by DNA methylation in response to changes in fat mass and environmental stimuli. Furthermore, we want to study if the central leptin-receptor-mediated signaling is part of this epigenetic regulation mechanism.

Experimental Methods:
  • Working with biopsies from human adipose tissue
  • Working with mouse models of obesity and insulin resistance (diet-induced obese mice, ob/ob and db/db mice) and intervention strategies (caloric restriction)
  • Phenotyping of mice including measurement of energy expenditure, body composition and body weight
  • Protein, DNA and RNA extraction
  • PCR, qPCR, Immunoblotting
  • Bisulphite-Pyrosequencing for DNA methylation analysis
  • Methylation-sensitive luciferase reporter gene assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP)

    Qualification profile

    • Research-based master's degree or equivalent (e.g. diploma) passed with an excellent grade in biology, biochemistry, molecular life science, neuroscience, nutrition & biomedicine, pharmacology or a related subject
    • Excellent English language skills in speaking and writing
    • Pro-active attitude, good communication skills and ability to work independently in an interdisciplinary team

    Send application to

    GRK1957 Office, chaoqun.jiang(at)

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    Über University of Lübeck

    Welcome at the GRK1957 "Adipocyte-Brain Crosstalk"Our DFG funded  Graduiertenkolleg 1957  offers focused research projects and a structured training programme. In an interdisciplinary research approach we address the effects of hormones derived from adipose tissue (adipokines) on CNS function and, in turn, the control of adipose tissue and body weight by the brain. ...
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