Bernard Duncker carries out cancer-related research on yeast and is an expert on the initiation of eukaryotic DNA replication and cell cycle checkpoints.
His work on the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the proteins involved in controlling DNA replication has applications for developing biomarkers to detect the presence of environmental carcinogens, and cancer in humans. Professor Duncker is also studying how both yeast and various fish species regulate the production of certain proteins during cell cycle checkpoints, a series of decisions involved in cell proliferation which become flawed as cells turn cancerous.
Associate Dean of Science, Research
Office: B1 291B
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 33957
- DNA replication
- Cell cycle checkpoints
- Molecular Genetics
Professor Duncker's lab is using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in cancer-related studies of the cell cycle. They are currently focusing their investigations on identifying and characterizing protein factors that control the initiation of DNA replication.
S. cerevisiae has proven to be a very useful organism for such studies because it is one of the few eukaryotes for which origins of replication have been well characterized, and the only one for which an origin consensus sequence has been identified.
These findings, in combination with an advanced knowledge of budding yeast genetics, has permitted the identification of numerous protein factors that associate with replication origins. These include members of the pre-replicative complex (pre-RC), which assembles at origins during G1 phase of the cell cycle. The pre-RC must be present in order for origins to fire and is rapidly disassembled in S phase. In addition to the pre-RC, the activity of two protein kinase complexes Clb/Cdc28 and Dbf4/Cdc7 are required to trigger replication.
Homologues for these proteins have been found in a wide variety of organisms, including humans, and have demonstrated promise as diagnostic markers for cell proliferation in potential malignancies.
Work in Professor Duncker's laboratory is aimed at studying the way in which kinase complexes act at origins, characterizing novel origin-associated proteins, and determining how these protein factors are regulated when cell cycle checkpoints are triggered.
Professor Duncker teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included
- BIOL 434 Human Molecular Genetics
- BIOL 629 Cell Growth and Differentiation
- Almawi, A., Matthews, L.A., Larasati, Myrox, P., Boulton, S., Lai, C., Moraes, T., Melacini, G., Ghirlando, R., Duncker, B.P. and Guarné, A. (2016) ‘AND’ logic gates at work: Crystal structure of Rad53 bound to Dbf4 and Cdc7. Scientific Reports (in press)
- Matthews, L.A., Selvaratnam, R., Jones, D.R., Akimoto, M., McConkey, B.J., Melacini, G., Duncker, B.P. and Guarné, A. (2014). A novel, non-canonical FHA binding interface mediates the interaction between Rad53 and Dbf4. Journal of Biological Chemistry 289: 2589-2599.
- Ramer, M.D., Suman, E.S., Richter, H., Stanger, K., Spranger, M., Bieberstein, N. and Duncker, B.P. (2013) Dbf4 and Cdc7 proteins promote DNA replication through interactions with distinct Mcm2-7 protein subunits. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 14926-14935.
- Liu, M., Tee, C., Zeng, F., Sherry, J.P., Dixon, B., Bols, N.C. and Duncker, B.P. (2011) Characterization of p53 expression in rainbow trout. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 154: 326-332
- Jones, D.R., Prasad, A.A., Chan, P.K. and Duncker, B.P. (2010) The Dbf4 motif C zinc finger promotes DNA replication and mediates resistance to genotoxic stress. Cell Cycle 9: 2018-2026
Awards and Distinctions
- 2008, 2013 University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award
- 2005-2010 Ontario Early Researcher Award
- 2003-2009 Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist Award
- 1997-2000 NCIC Terry Fox Postdoctoral Fellowship
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
- University of Waterloo Senate
- Senate Graduate and Research Council
- Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Science
- Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research (member)
Professional Associations and Service
- Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences
1995 PhD Biology, Queen's University
1988 BSc Biology, University of Ottawa