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PhD position in Molecular Biology - DNA demethylation, reprogramming and differentiation

In the field of  “DNA demethylation, reprogramming and differentiation” the research group of Prof. Christof Niehrs offers the following PhD project:

Reconstitution of active DNA demethylation


Current knowledge implies DNA repair to be essential for the process of active DNA demethylation in vertebrates. Among several proposed repair mechanisms base excision repair (BER) became generally accepted as a key mechanism for demethylation. BER consists of the consecutive action of just a handful enzymes releasing the base and filling the gap in a comparatively minimally invasive procedure. Importantly, 5-methyl-dC (5-mC) appears not to be directly the target for BER-mediated demethylation but needs to be first oxidized and/or deaminated to become a BER-substrate. Additionally, the role of GADD45a in the demethylation process by BER remains to be elucidated.

The PhD project aims to contribute to one of the most crucial but still missing evidence for active DNA demethylation, a complete reconstitution of BER-mediated demethylation with purified proteins and the respective methylated DNA substrates in vitro. Recent progress in the identification of 5 meC converting enzymes makes the final goal of demonstrating active DNA demethylation by pure biochemistry come into reach. To this end the PhD candidate will identify, purify and characterize DNA repair enzymes, especially DNA glycosylases and 5-mC-converting enzymes in vitro and in vivo using a wide repertory of molecular biological and biochemical methods including mammalian cell culture, mass spectrometry, heterologous gene expression, protein chromatography as well as single and combined enzymatic assays.

We offer
•    The possibility to work on a cutting-edge project using state-of-the-art technology in a highly motivated research team
•    A stimulating, diverse and international research environment
•    Advanced training opportunities
•    A competitive stipend

    Required qualifications
•    Master or Diploma
•    Motivation to solve complex biological problems
•    Excellent communication skills

Starting date: 01 March 2015 or later
Duration of stipend: 3 years, with the possibility of extension
Deadline for applications (exclusively online via web form):  08 November 2014

Contact detail

How to apply:
Send application to

Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Rheinland-Pfalz)
Working place
55128 Mainz
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences