Deutsch Intern
Rudolf Virchow Center for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging

Kisker Group

About the Kisker Group

80 to 90% of all human cancers are ultimately due to DNA damage. Consequently, different repair mechanisms have evolved to protect the genome. Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is a major DNA repair mechanism and is unique in its versatility to repair a broad range of lesions, including carcinogenic cyclobutane-pyrimidine-dimers induced by UV radiation and benzo[a]pyrene-guanine adducts caused by smoking. In humans, NER is the only repair mechanism to protect our DNA from damage induced by ultraviolet light. Our laboratory focuses on the bacterial and mammalian NER machinery and is characterizing this system to understand the reaction cascade of NER leading from recognition to repair.

DNA Repair and Drug Design

Structure-based drug design to identify new therapeutics against human pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia pestis and Burkholderia is a second focus in the laboratory. Resistant strains become a serious health threat and limit treatment options. We therefore aim to develop/identify new therapeutics which can be successfully used against these strains.

Lab Page

Giroud M., Dietzel U., Anselm L., Banner D., Kuglstatter A., Benz J., Blanc J.B., Gaufreteau D., Liu H., Lin X., Stich A., Kuhn B., Schuler F., Kaiser M., Brun R., Schirmeister T., Kisker C., Diederich F., Haap W. (2018). Repurposing a Library of Human Cathepsin L Ligands: Identification of Macrocyclic Lactams as Potent Rhodesain and Trypanosoma brucei Inhibitors. J Med Chem. 2018 Apr 26;61(8):3350-3369. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b01869. Epub 2018 Apr 13.

Grabarczyk, D.B., Silkenat S., Kisker C. (2018). Structural Basis fort he Recruitment of Ctf18-RFC to the Replisome. Structure 2018 Jan 2;26(1):137-144.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2017.11.004. Epub 2017 Dec 7.

Skinner J.J., Wang S., Lee J., Ong C., Sommese R., Sivaramakrishnan S., Koelmel W., Hirschbeck M., Schindelin H., Kisker C., Lorenz K., Sosnick T.R., Rosner M.R. (2017). Conserved salt-bridge competition triggered by phosphorylation regulates the protein interactome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Dec 19;114(51):13453-13458. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1711543114. Epub 2017 Dec 5.

Radu L., Schoenwetter E., Braun C., Marcoux J., Koelmel W., Schmitt D.R., Kuper J., Cianférani S., Egly J.M., Poterszman A., Kisker C. (2017). The intricate network between the p34 and p44 subunits is central to the activity of the transcription/DNA repair factor TFIIH. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Oct 13;45(18):10872-10883. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx743.

Bartossek T., Jones N.G., Schäfer C., Cvitković M., Glogger M., Mott H.R., Kuper J., Brennich M., Carrington M., Smith A.S., Fenz S., Kisker C., Engstler M. (2017). Structural basis for the shielding function of the dynamic trypanosome variant surface glycoprotein coat. Nat Microbiol. 2017 Nov;2(11):1523-1532. doi: 10.1038/s41564-017-0013-6. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

Lu R., Schaefer C.M., Nesbitt N.M., Kuper J., Kisker C., Sampson N.S. (2017). Catabolism of the Cholesterol Side Chain in Mycobacterium tuberculosis ls Controlled by a Redox-Sensitive Thiol Switch. ACS Infect Dis. 2017 Sep 8;3(9):666-675. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00072. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Kaiser S., Sauer F., Kisker C. (2017). The structural and functional characterization of human RecQ4 reveals insights into its helicase mechanism. Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 27;8:15907. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15907.

Fischer A., Harrison K.S., Ramirez Y., Auer D., Chowdhury S.R., Prusty B.K., Sauer F., Dimond Z., Kisker C., Scott Hefty P., Rudel T. (2017). Chlamydia trachomatis-containing yacuole serves as deubiquitination platform to stabilize Mcl-1 and to interfere with host defense. Elife. 2017 Mar 28;6. pii: e21465. doi: 10.7554/eLife.21465.

Neckles C., Eltschkner S., Cummings J.E., Hirschbeck M., Daryaee F., Bommineni G.R., Zhang Z., Spagnuolo L., Yu W., Davoodi S., Slayden R.A., Kisker C., Tonge P.J. (2017). Rationalizing the Binding Kinetics for the Inhibition of the Burkholderia pseudomallei Fabl1 Enoyl-ACP Reductase. (2017). Biochemistry. 2017 Apr 4;56(13):1865-1878. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b01048. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Spagnuolo L.A., Eltschkner S., Yu W., Daryaee F., Davoodi S., Knudson S.E., Allen E.K., Merino J., Pschibul A., Moree B., Thivalapill N., Truglio J.J., Salafsky J., Slayden R.A., Kisker C., Tonge P.J. (2017). Evaluating the Contribution of Transition-State Destabilization to Changes in the Residence Time of Triazole-Based InhA Inhibitors. J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Mar 8;139(9):3417-3429. doi: 10.1021/jacs.6b11148. Epub 2017 Feb 22.

Jung L.A., Gebhardt A., Koelmel W., Ade C.P., Walz S., Kuper J., von Eyss B., Letschert S., Redel C., d'Artista L., Biankin A., Zender L., Sauer M., Wolf E., Evan G., Kisker C., Eilers M. (2017). OmoMYC blunts promoter invasion by oncogenic MYC to inhibit gene expression characteristic of MYC-dependent tumors. Oncogene. 2017 Apr 6;36(14):1911-1924. doi: 10.1038/onc.2016.354. Epub 2016 Oct 17.

Daryaee F., Chang A., Schiebel J., Lu Y., Zhang Z., Kapilashrami K., Walker S.G., Kisker C., Sotriffer C.A., Fisher S.L., Tonge P.J. (2017). Correlating Drug-Target Kinetics and In vivo Pharmacodynamics: Long Residence Time Inhibitors of the Fabl Enoyl-ACP Reductase. Chem Sci. 2016 Sep 1;7(9):5945-5954. Epub 2016 May 25.

Lorenzin F., Benary U., Baluapuri A., Walz S., Jung L.A., von Eyss B., Kisker C., Wolf J., Eilers M., Wolf E. (2016). Different promoter affinities account for specificity in MYC-dependent gene regulation.Elife. 2016 Jul 27;5. pii: e15161. doi: 10.7554/eLife.15161. 

Wirth, N., Gross, J., Roth, H.M., Buechner, C.N., Kisker, C., Tessmer, I. (2016) Conversation and Divergence in Nucleotide Excision Repair Lesion Recognition. (2016). J Biol Chem. Jul 12. pii: jbc.M116.739425.

Houten, B.V., Kuper, J., Kisker, C. (2016). Role of XPD in cellular functions: To TFIIH and beyond. DNA Repair (Amst). May 16. pii: S1568-7864(16)30099-4. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2016.05.019.

Neckles,C., Pschibul, A., Lai, C.T., Hirschbeck, M., Kuper, J., Davoodi, S., Zou, J., Liu, N., Pan, P., Shah, S., Daryaee, F., Bommineni, G.R., Lai, C., Simmerling, C., Kisker, C., Tonge, P.J. Selectivity of Pyridone- and Diphenyl Ether-Based Inhibitors for the Yersinia pestis FabV Enoyl-ACP Reductase. Biochemistry. May 31;55(21):2992-3006. doi:10.1021/acs.biochem.5b01301. Epub 2016 May 17.

Rohleder, F., Huang, J., Xue, Y., Kuper, J., Round, A., Seidman, W., Wang, W., Kisker, C. (2016). FANCM interacts with PCNA to promote replication traverse of DNA interstrand crosslinks.Nucleic Acids Res. Pii: gwk037.

Pelz, J.P., Schindelin, H., van Pee, K., Kuper, J., Kisker, C., Diederichs, K., Fischer, U., Grimm, C. (2015). Crystrallizing the 6S and 8S spliceosomal assembly intermediates: a complex project. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2015 Oct;71(Pt 10):2040-53. doi: 10.1107/S1399004715014832. Epub 2015 Sep 26.

Koch, S.C., Kuper, J., Gasteiger, K.L., Simon, N., Strasser, R., Eisen, D., Geiger, S., Schneider, S., Kisker, C., Carell, T. (2015). Structural insights into the recognition of cisplatin and AAF-dG lesion by Rad14 (XPA).Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jul 7;112(27):8272-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508509112. Epub 2015 Jun 2.

Schiebel, J., Chang, A., Merget, B., Bommineni, G.R., Yu, W., Spagnuolo, L.A., Baxter, M.V., Tareilus, M., Tonge, P.J., Kisker, C., Sotriffer, C.A. (2015). An ordered water channel in Staphylococcus aureus FabI: unraveling the mechanism of substrate recognition and reduction. Biochemistry. 2015 Mar 17;54(10):1943-55. doi: 10.1021/bi5014358. Epub 2015 Mar 3.

Schaefer, C.M., Lu, R., Nesbitt, N.M., Schiebel, J., Sampson, N.S., and Kisker, C. (2015).  FadA5 a Thiolase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: A Steroid-Binding Pocket Reveals the Potential for Drug Development against Tuberculosis. Structure 23(1):21-33. Doi: 10.1016/j.str2014.10.010. Epub 2014 Dec 4.

Calebiro, D., Hannawacker, A., Lyga, S., Bathon, K., Zabel, U., Ronchi, C., Beuschlein, F., Reincke, M., Lorenz, K., Alllolio, B., Kisker, C., Fassnacht, M., and Lohse, M.J. (2014). PKA catalytic subunit mutations in adrenocortical Cushing`s adenoma impair association with the regulatory subunit. Nat Commun 5:5680. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6680.

Khan, I., Suhasini, A.N., Banerjee, T., Sommers, J.A., Kaplan, D.L., Kuper, J., Kisker, C., and Brosh, R.M. Jr. (2014). Impact of age-associated cyclopurine lesions on DNA repair helicases. PLoS One 9(11): e113293. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113293. eCollection 2014.

Kuper, J., Braun, C., Elias, A., Michels, G., Sauer, F., Schmitt, D.R., Poterszman, A., Egly, J.M., and Kisker, C. (2014). In TFIIH, XPD helicase is exclusively devoted to DNA repair. PLoS Biol 12(9): e1001954. doi:  10.1371/journal.pbio.1001954. eCollection 2014.

Di Dalmazi, G., Kisker, C., Calebiro, D., Mannelli, M., Canu, L., Arnaldi, G., Quinkler, M., Rayes, N., Tabarin, A., Laure Jullié, M., Mantero, F., Rubin, B., Waldmann, J., Bartsch, D.K., Pasquali, R., Lohse, M., Allolio, B., Fassnacht, M., Beuschlein, F., and Reincke, M. (2014). Novel somatic mutations in the catalytic subunit of the protein kinase A as a cause of adrenal Cushing`s syndrome: a European multicentric study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 99(10): E2093-100. doi 10.1210/jc.2014-2152. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Current position

  • Speaker and member of Executive Board of the Rudolf Virchow Center at the University of Würzburg (since 2020)
  • Chair of Structural Biology (W3) of University of Würzburg (since 2005)
  • Dean Graduate School of Life Sciences of University of Würzburg (since 2009)

Research Experience

2001-2005       Associate Professor, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA
1998-2001       Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA
1994-1998       Postdoc, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA


1991‐1994        Dr. rer. nat. (PhD) Biochemistry, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany


  • Member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (since 2017)
  • Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (since 2011)
  • 1995 Karl Ramsauer Award for Ph.D. Thesis
  • 1995-1997 Postdoctoral Fellowship Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • 1998-1999 Targeted Research Opportunity Award SUNY Stony Brook
  • 2000-2004 PEW Scholar in Biomedical Sciences

Editorial and selected advisory boards

  • Member of the “Senats und Bewilligungsausschuss für Graduiertenkollegs der DFG” (2014 - 2019)
  • Reviewer for the European Research Council (2014)
  • Member of the scientific advisory Board of the Bavarian Science Foundation (2013)
  • Vice-Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig,Germany (2013 - 2020)
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of the Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany (2012 - 2020)
  • Editorial Board DNA Repair (since 2002)
  • Member of the Reviewer Panel of the European Research Council (since 2014)
  • President of the German Society for DNA Repair (since 2018)


Dean - Graduate School of Life Sciences
Vice Dean - Department of Medicine
Head - Chair for Structural Biology at the Rudolf Virchow Center
Supervisor and Member in different thesis committees - Graduate School of Life Sciences/Biomedicine

Current term program can be found here.