Position: PhD Position in Structural Biology & Enzymology of Protein Kinase Regulation by RNA Helicases

Department: Molecular Embryology

Code number: 2022-0250

The German Cancer Research Center is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. With more than 3,000 employees, we operate an extensive scientific program in the field of cancer research.

Job description:

Wnt signaling is a key process in cell differentiation and oncogenesis. Casein kinase 1 (CK1) regulates Wnt signaling pathway at multiple levels. The lab of Prof. Dr. Christof Niehrs (Division of Molecular Embryology) has identified the DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 as effector of the Wnt-β-catenin network, where it acts as an allosteric activator of CK1 (Cruciat et al (2013); Fatti et al (2021). Both DDX3 and CK1 are oncogenes and hence their investigation is of relevance for the development of novel cancer therapeutics. Our data indicate that DDX3 allosterically activates CK1. You will follow up on the kinetic mechanism of this new regulatory paradigm between kinases and helicases by conducting recombinant protein expression, enzyme kinetics, biophysical measurements including stopped flow spectroscopy, and protein crystallography to provide a mechanistic understanding. 



Cruciat et al. (2013). RNA helicase DDX3 is a regulatory subunit of casein kinase 1 in Wnt-β-catenin signaling. Science 339, 1436-1441.

Fatti et al. (2021) DEAD-box RNA Helicases Act as Nucleotide Exchange Factors for Casein Kinase 2 biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.20.473452v1



Applicants should hold a master's degree in a relevant field to the topic with a background in biochemistry, enzymology, or biophysics. Candidates should be self-motivated and be able to pursue research projects independently as well as in collaborations. A good command of written and oral English is essential. Applications should consist of a single PDF file including a CV, relevant certificates (Germans: copies of Abitur- & Masterzeugnis), a cover letter stating research and career interests, expected availability date, a list of publications and contact details of two references.

Incomplete applications will not be considered or acknowledged.

Questions may be addressed to office.niehrs@dkfz-heidelberg.de

We offer:

  • Interesting, versatile workplace
  • International, attractive working environment
  • Campus with modern state-of-the-art infrastructure
  • Access to international research networks
  • Doctoral student payment including social benefits
  • Flexible working hours
  • Comprehensive training and mentoring program through the Helmholtz International Graduate School

Important notice:

The DKFZ is subject to the regulations of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). As a consequence, only persons who present proof of immunity against measles as well as against COVID-19 may work at the DKFZ.

Earliest Possible Start Date: 01.12.2022

Duration: The position is limited to 3 years.

Application Deadline: 25.08.2022


Nadine Steinhübel
Phone +49 6221/42-4693

Please note that we do not accept applications submitted via email.

The DKFZ is committed to increase the proportion of women in all areas and positions in which women are underrepresented. Qualified female applicants are therefore particularly encouraged to apply.

Among candidates of equal aptitude and qualifications, a person with disabilities will be given preference. 

To apply for a position please use our online application portal (https://www.dkfz.de/en/stellenangebote/index.php).

We ask for your understanding that we cannot return application documents that are sent to us by post (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Personalabteilung, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg) and that we do not accept applications submitted via email. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.