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Martin Pichler, Division of Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Martin Pichler
Availability: This position is available.
Offered by: Medical University of Graz
Application deadline:Applications are accepted between August 03, 2022 00:00 and September 20, 2022 23:59 (Europe/Zurich)



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the third leading cause of
cancer death in men and women in the United States and Europe.
For three decades, alterations of protein-coding oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes have
been considered as the main cause of tumorigenesis. Recent advances proved without doubts
that cancer is a complex genetic disease involving structural and expression abnormalities of
both coding and non-coding genes. Recently, the discovery of long non-coding RNAs in cancer
and the fact that this class of molecules is located in around 70% of the whole genome
sequence, underline the huge potential of these molecules in cancer medicine as diagnostics,
prognostics and therapeutic targets. The aim of this proposal, therefore, is to identify long non-
coding RNAs and corresponding protein-coding genes and characterize the interplay in the
process of cancer metastases.

Hypothesis and Objectives:

The central hypothesis of this project is to determine the role of long non-coding RNAs in CRC
with a special focus on cancer metastases. The following aims should be followed to achieve
new insights: (1) First, based on preliminary genome-wide expression data derived from cell
lines, we will determine the biological function of several key long non-coding RNA and protein-
coding candidates. (2) Second, long non-coding RNAs relevant in CRC biology will be further
tested for molecular interaction partners with a special focus on druggable proteins/signaling


Methods in RNA biology, RNA-protein interactions, cell culture, animal models, RNA


Therapeutic potential of FLANC, a novel primate-specific long non-coding RNA in colorectal
cancer. Pichler M, et al.Gut. 2020 Oct;69(10):1818-1831.
N-BLR, a primate-specific non-coding transcript leads to colorectal cancer invasion and
migration.Rigoutsos I, Genome Biol. 2017 May 24;18(1):98. doi: 10.1186/s13059-017-1224-0.