Study level

  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Brett Hollier
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Professor Colleen Nelson
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Dr Nataly Stylianou
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


The MYCN oncogene is amplified in a number of tumour types, including Neuroblastoma (NB) and Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer (NEPC), where it is associated with worse patient prognosis, as compared to non-amplified tumours. However, the high expression of MYCN (encoding the n-MYC protein) alone in non-amplified tumours is associated with better patient prognosis and less aggressive disease. This suggests that other genes co-expressed in MYCN amplified tumours may be responsible for mediating the aggressive traits of n-MYC. Our team has identified a previously uncharacterised gene/protein (termed herein protein MNamp) that is co-expressed with n-MYC in MYCN amplified NB and NEPC, which can mediate the aggressive behaviour of n-MYC. This project will use a variety of biochemistry and cell biology techniques to undertake the first comprehensive characterisation of this novel protein and its role in modulating the biological functions of n-MYC in models of NB and NEPC.

Approaches/skills and techniques:

  • Bacterial and mammalian cell culture
  • Protein purification
  • Protein characterisation
  • Identify protease cleavage sites
  • Protease assays
  • Peptide sequencing and functional analyses
  • Western Blot
  • qRTPCR

Through this project, prospective students will gain skills in numerous scientific techniques that are broadly applicable throughout the biomedical science disciplines. Based at the world-class Translational Research Institute, the students will access the state-of-the-art facilities and join a vibrant team of talented biomedical researchers within the Plasticity research group and broader Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre – Queensland.


The overarching hypothesis of the project is that protein MNamp will play a functional role in modulating the aggressive characteristics of n-MYC in MYCN amplified NB and NEPC. The aims of the project are:

Aim 1: Express and purify novel protein MNamp;

Aim 2: Identify and characterise functional domains of protein MNamp;

Aim 3: Determine a functional role for protein MNamp via treatment of NB and NEPC cell lines in vitro;

Aim 4: Identify potential inhibitors of protein MNamp using in silico and in vitro small molecule library screens.

Required skills and experience

Potential students should have a keen interest in cancer biology and demonstrate a high level of organisation, attention to detail and ability to work in a team environment. Protein purification knowledge preferred but not required.



Please contact Dr Brett Hollier for details.