Bernard Duncker

Bernard Duncker
Professor, Associate Vice-President (Research and International)
Location: B1 291B
Phone: 519-888-4567 x33957


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.

Research Interests

  • DNA replication
  • Cell cycle checkpoints
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Bioinformatics, Systematics and Evolution
  • Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Microbiology


  • 1995 Ph.D. Biology, Queen's University, Canada
  • 1988 B.Sc. Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada


  • 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 Senate
  • Senate Graduate and Research Council
  • Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Science

Professional Associations

  • Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology, member
  • Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research, member


  • BIOL 434 - Human Molecular Genetics
    • Taught in 2020

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • 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.