PhD by Research Programme (Dermatology and Skin Biology)

Jan 10, 2017
Jan 30, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Research Project Title: Characterization of GSK3β Pathway in T-lymphocyte Migration and Effector Functions

Principal Investigator:

Assistant Professor Navin Kumar Verma, LKCMedicineCo-supervisor: Professor Bernhard Otto Boehm, LKCMedicine


  • Associate Professor Sze Siu Kwan, Newman, School of Biological Sciences 
  •  Dr. Leong Khai Pang, Tang Tock Seng Hospital Singapore

Project Discription:
T-lymphocyte migration is a key element of an adaptive immune response. However, aberrant Tcell trafficking can lead to a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune disease conditions. The multi-step process of T-cell motility is precisely controlled by integrin-mediated adhesions and chemokine signals. In particular, specific interaction of the T-cell integrin LFA-1 with the ligand ICAM-1, expressed on antigen presenting cells and endothelium during inflammation, triggers a plethora of downstream signalling cascades resulting in the dynamic reorganization of cytoskeletal systems necessary for T-cell migration.

Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase, initially identified as a regulator of glycogen metabolism. Emerging evidence suggests an important role for GSK3β in cytoskeletal remodeling and cell migration. Within this context, GSK3β controls cell motility by phosphorylating cytoskeleton-associated proteins CLASP2 and ACF7, resulting in the spatial regulation of cytoskeleton. We hypothesize that GSK3β is involved in the dynamic rearrangement of T-cell cytoskeletal systems and T-cell motility. Here, we propose to characterize potential role(s) of GSK3β in the regulation of T-cell cytoskeletal systems and functional behavior of T-lymphocytes. The student will address the following three specific aims:-Aim1: Characterize the status of GSK3β activity in migrating T-cells using cutting-edge molecular, biochemical, microscopy and High Content Analysis techniques.

  • Aim2: Elucidate the mechanism of GSK3β involvement in T-cell cytoskeleton remodeling byexamining its regulation of the cytoskeleton-associated proteins CLASP2 and ACF7.
  • Aim3: Investigate the role(s) of GSK3β in T-cell functioning by modulating its cellular expression or activity with the use of specific inhibitors/RNA interference and utilizing multiple in vitro and in vivo model systems.

We believe, this study will uncover a novel role of GSK3β in T-cell functioning. The knowledge gained through this work will also unveil potential new therapeutic targets for a safer, selective and reversible modulation of the adaptive immune system that will have broader clinical implications. The student will gain specialized training in T-cell biology, immunology and cell signalling, with techniques to include cell culture, microscopy, small animal models, cellular, molecular, biochemical and metabolic assays. He/she will write scientific papers that will form the basis of his/her PhD thesis.

If you have questions regarding this project, please email the Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor Navin Kumar Verma at

Please refer to the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine website for programme information -