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  Structural and functional investigation of the protein C19orf12 involved in the neurodegenerative disease MPAN

   Institute of Structural Biology

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  Dr Ana Messias, Prof Michael Sattler  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

A doctoral student position is available to work with Dr. Ana Messias and Prof. Michael Sattler, at the Institute of Structural Biology (Helmholtz Munich, HMGU) and the Bavarian NMR Center at the TUM School of Natural Sciences in Munich, Germany. The successful applicant will be joining a dynamic, interdisciplinary and international lab, within one of the world’s top research institutes and universities. We are seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic candidate with a background in structural biology/biochemistry/biophysics and a strong interest in molecular mechanisms of human disease. 

This exciting doctoral project will investigate the detailed molecular and functional mechanism of the enigmatic protein C19orf12 and its role in the development of Mitochondrial-membrane Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration (MPAN). MPAN is an ultra-rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease identified at HMGU/TUM in 2011 (Hartig et al., 2011). MPAN patients have an expected lifetime up to early adulthood and current treatments are only symptomatic. The project aims to understand the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms of C19orf12 and ultimately to develop personalized drugs that will prolong and improve the lives of MPAN patients. To achieve this, the student will use molecular biology, protein biochemistry, biophysical and biochemical methodologies, and structural biology techniques (NMR, X-ray, cryo-EM, SAXS/SANS, etc.). We have very exciting preliminary results obtained under the framework of pilot studies funded by NBIADA (US) and NBIA Association (Poland). The student will be also working closely with interdisciplinary collaborators to test hypotheses in the context of model MPAN cells and organisms. For further information, please check the reference section below.

Student profile:

Prospective candidates should have excellent qualification and a Master’s degree in biochemistry, biophysics or related, with basic to advanced chemical/biochemical knowledge. Preference will be given to those with experience in analytical techniques and/or structural and molecular biology methods including NMR, X-ray crystallography, cryo-EM and protein expression and purification. The ideal candidate must be passionate about biochemistry, and structural biology, highly motivated, organized, independent and hard working. All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We prefer candidates that have already secured their own competitive funding. 


The selected candidate will extensively use structural biology, biochemistry and molecular biology to address the above questions. In addition, the candidate will be exposed to state-of-the-art facilities including the Institute of Structural Biology (Helmholtz Munich, HMGU) and the Bavarian NMR Center. Helmholtz Munich and the Technical University Munich (TUM) are among the top research institutions and universities in the World and have an established PhD programme. It provides support with high-quality training and career development activities which includes the development of skills essential for career progression. The student will be based at the Institute of Structural Biology in Neuherberg (Munich). To apply, please send all the following documents to Dr. Ana Messias ([Email Address Removed]):

·       Detailed CV 

·       Details of 2 academic referees with email contacts

·       All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate

MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)  

·       A research statement (max. 1 page) describing why you are suitable for

this doctoral position 

·       A statement of how they intend to fund their studies

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Only self-funded students are eligible. There is currently no funding available for the position and the successful applicant will be expected to provide funding for living expenses and maintenance. Doctoral degrees in Germany are, in general, free for all students, regardless of nationality. Availability of additional research costs of €10,000- 15,000 (bench fees) per annum for consumables are a plus. Applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We prefer candidates that have already secured or wish to secure their own competitive funding. Possibilities of funding for the doctoral position can be found here:

Interested candidates are welcome to discuss funding possibilities with the supervisors.

Biological Sciences (4)


1. Identification of Autophagy as a Functional Target Suitable for the Pharmacological Treatment of Mitochondrial Membrane Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration (MPAN) In Vitro. Zanuttigh E, Derderian K, Güra MA, Geerlof A, Di Meo I, Cavestro C, Hempfling S, Ortiz-Collazos S, Mauthe M, Kmieć T, Cammarota E, Panzeri MC, Klopstock T, Sattler M, Winkelmann J, Messias AC, Iuso A.Pharmaceutics. 2023 Jan 12;15(1):267. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics15010267.
2. DNA damage independent inhibition of NF-κB transcription by anthracyclines. Chora AF, Pedroso D, Kyriakou E, Pejanovic N, Colaço H, Gozzelino R, Barros A, Willmann K, Velho T, Moita CF, Santos I, Pereira P, Carvalho S, Martins FB, Ferreira JA, de Almeida SF, Benes V, Anrather J, Weis S, Soares MP, Geerlof A, Neefjes J, Sattler M, Messias AC, Neves-Costa A, Moita LF.Elife. 2022 Dec 7;11:e77443. doi: 10.7554/eLife.77443.
3. The dynamics of linear polyubiquitin. Jussupow A, Messias AC, Stehle R, Geerlof A, Solbak SMØ, Paissoni C, Bach A, Sattler M, Camilloni C.Sci Adv. 2020 Oct 14;6(42):eabc3786. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abc3786.
4. Structural Insight into IAPP-Derived Amyloid Inhibitors and Their Mechanism of Action. Niu Z, Prade E, Malideli E, Hille K, Jussupow A, Mideksa YG, Yan LM, Qian C, Fleisch M, Messias AC, Sarkar R, Sattler M, Lamb DC, Feige MJ, Camilloni C, Kapurniotu A, Reif B. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2020 Mar 27;59(14):5771-5781. doi: 10.1002/anie.201914559.
5. Celastrol Promotes Weight Loss in Diet-Induced Obesity by Inhibiting the Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases PTP1B and TCPTP in the Hypothalamus. Kyriakou E, Schmidt S, Dodd GT, Pfuhlmann K, Simonds SE, Lenhart D, Geerlof A, Schriever SC, De Angelis M, Schramm KW, Plettenburg O, Cowley MA, Tiganis T, Tschöp MH, Pfluger PT, Sattler M, Messias AC. J Med Chem. 2018 Dec 27;61(24):11144-11157. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01224.
6. Fluorescent blood-brain barrier tracing shows intact leptin transport in obese mice. Harrison L, Schriever SC, Feuchtinger A, Kyriakou E, Baumann P, Pfuhlmann K, Messias AC, Walch A, Tschöp MH, Pfluger PT. Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Jun;43(6):1305-1318. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0221-z.
7. Celastrol-Induced Weight Loss Is Driven by Hypophagia and Independent From UCP1. Pfuhlmann K, Schriever SC, Baumann P, Kabra DG, Harrison L, Mazibuko-Mbeje SE, Contreras RE, Kyriakou E, Simonds SE, Tiganis T, Cowley MA, Woods SC, Jastroch M, Clemmensen C, De Angelis M, Schramm KW, Sattler M, Messias AC, Tschöp MH, Pfluger PT. Diabetes. 2018 Nov;67(11):2456-2465. doi: 10.2337/db18-0146.
8. Mutations in PPCS, Encoding Phosphopantothenoylcysteine Synthetase, Cause Autosomal-Recessive Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Iuso A, Wiersma M, Schüller HJ, Pode-Shakked B, Marek-Yagel D, Grigat M, Schwarzmayr T, Berutti R, Alhaddad B, Kanon B, Grzeschik NA, Okun JG, Perles Z, Salem Y, Barel O, Vardi A, Rubinshtein M, Tirosh T, Dubnov-Raz G, Messias AC, Terrile C, Barshack I, Volkov A, Avivi C, Eyal E, Mastantuono E, Kumbar M, Abudi S, Braunisch M, Strom TM, Meitinger T, Hoffmann GF, Prokisch H, Haack TB, Brundel BJJM, Haas D, Sibon OCM, Anikster Y. Am J Hum Genet. 2018 Jun 7;102(6):1018-1030. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.03.022.
9. Structural Characterization of LRRK2 Inhibitors. Gilsbach BK, Messias AC, Ito G, Sattler M, Alessi DR, Wittinghofer A, Kortholt A. J Med Chem. 2015 May 14;58(9):3751-6. doi: 10.1021/jm5018779.
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 About the Project