Open Positions



Division Signaling and Functional Genomics




Prof. Dr. Michael Boutros


Welcome to the website of the Division of Signaling and Functional Genomics at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

Our research centers on the systematic analysis of signaling networks that control key decisions during development of organisms and are often mutated in cancer. We use modern genomic technologies as well as cell biology and genetics in model systems and human cells in order to dissect how signals are secreted, how they are received and transmitted.

In man, mutations in signaling factors are often the cause of cancer. For example, the gene APC is frequently mutated in colon cancer and a key regulatory factor of Wnt signaling pathways. Genetic model organisms, such as Drosophila and mouse, are of great importance as experimental systems to identify new factors and place them into their cellular context.

We also develop high-throughput methods for systematic functional analysis. Large-scale screens using RNA interference allow us to silence almost every single gene in the genome and to quantitative measure the phenotypes of such perturbations. RNAi and small molecules are combined to identify targets and drug-like substances for the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Another research topic are new methods to integrate massively parallel phenotyping by deep sequencing with perturbation analysis screens to predict the effect of network perturbations.

More information about our past and present research is available on the following pages.




Team spirit in the genome: Genes, like people, are fundamentally social. Just as we often work in teams, companies, or other more or less complex organisations, genes often work together in genetic networks. And just as our productivity is often influenced by who we work with, the effects of genes depend on the peers they interact with. Read more
Discus throw with cancer signals: The Wnt signaling protein plays an important part in embryonic development and also in the development of diseases such as cancer. It has been unknown until now just how Wnt is carried from cell to cell. Read more
ERC Advanced Grant for Michael Boutros. Read more
Suggesting genes’ friends, facebook-style: New method reveals genes’ combined effects. A new approach helps understand how different genes can amplify, cancel out or mask each others’ effects. Read more

We are pleased to announce a new release (v.16) of GenomeRNAi ( - featuring a new interactive graphical representation of gene-phenotype relationships. The total of human RNAi screens has reached 467, and 207 in Drosophila. The number of gene-phenotype associations has increased to over 2,7 million.