PhD Student in the Department of Plant Molecular Biology

University of Heidelberg



Project: The proposed project is designed to address a fundamental question of plant research: How does co-translational imprinting of the proteome affect proteostasis and protein translation under diverse abiotic stresses to achieve acclimative growth responses?

N-terminal protein acetylation occurs at the ribosome of eukaryotes and affects more than 80% of cytosolic proteins in humans and plants. Despite the prevalence of this imprinting mechanism on the plant proteome, we know only little about its contribution to protein function.

We recently demonstrated that N-terminal protein acetylation is dynamically regulated by the stress-hormone abscisic acid, which decreases transcription and stability of the ribosome-associated N-terminal acetyltransferase complex A (NatA). Down-regulation of NatA activity in genetically engineered plants causes sensitivity towards abiotic and biotic stresses and constitutively activates the abscisic acid response 1, 2.

This project aims to elucidate the function of N-terminal protein acetylation for stress-induced regulation of protein turnover. A unique feature of our research team is the combined expertise on profiling of stress-induced translation, co-translational modifications of proteins, and protein stability. We will apply this expertise to unravel how abscisic acid affects proteasome-dependent destruction of NatA substrates. Furthermore, we will test the importance of candidate E3 ubiquitin ligases for specific recognition of N-terminally acetylated proteins (N-degrons).


Collaboration Partners: The project offers stimulating interactions and training opportunities within the framework of the Heidelberg Biosciences International Graduate School and all groups at COS. Strong connections to research groups in France (CNRS/University of Paris-Saclay) and the United Kingdom (University of Birmingham) support the project.


Profile of candidate’s qualifications: We are looking for highly motivated young scientists with an interest in molecular genetics and cellular regulation. Practical experience in molecular biology, biochemistry or cell biology of plants will be of benefit. The applicants should hold an M.Sc. in Biology, Biochemistry or other relevant subjects. Successful acceptance at the Heidelberg Biosciences International Graduate School is expected for the PhD student.

The University of Heidelberg is an equal opportunity employer.


Profile of the host lab: The project is offered by the department of Plant Molecular Biology (, which has a long-standing record of successfully graduated PhD students and leading expertise in co-translation modification of proteins and the stress-induced regulation of translation in plants.

Please send your full application as a PDF file to by 17 June 2019

1. Linster E, et al. Downregulation of N-terminal acetylation triggers ABA-mediated drought responses in Arabidopsis. Nat Commun 6, 7640 (2015).

2. Xu F, et al. Two N-terminal acetyltransferases antagonistically regulate the stability of a nod-like receptor in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 27, 1547-1562 (2015).

In your application, please refer to


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