Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Professor Jane Endicott

Prof of Cancer Structural Biology


Current position

Professor of Cancer Structural Biology

Roles and responsibilities

NICR Executive Board
NICR Strategy Board
Faculty Research Strategy Committee

Since October 2011, I have been Professor of Cancer Structural Biology in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University.  My group is pursuing structure-function studies of protein complexes involved in regulating transcription and progression through the eukaryotic cell cycle.  We are also providing structural biology support to projects within the NICR Drug Discovery Group.

I studied Biochemistry at Corpus Christi College, the University of Oxford and then moved to the laboratory of Victor Ling at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto to complete my PhD. I returned to Oxford in 1991 as a Junior Research Fellow of the National Cancer Institute of Canada to join the laboratories of Professor Paul Nurse and Professor Louise Johnson to pursue structural studies of cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs) and their regulators.  I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 1995 and appointed to a University Lecturership in the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, University of Oxford in 1998. During my time at Oxford I held a College Fellowship at St. Cross College, where I am now an Emeritus Fellow and a Lecturership at Trinity College. 

Funding and collaborations

2016-2021       MRC Programme Grant.  With Prof. M.E.M. Noble “CDK-containing macromolecular assemblies”

2015-2020       CRUK Programme Grant. Lead PIs, Prof. S. Wedge and Prof. M. Waring, co-PIs Profs. D.R. Newell, M.E.M. Noble and J.A. Endicott and Drs I. Hardcastle, and C. Cano, “The Cancer Research UK Programme for Drug Discovery at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University”

2015-2019       CRUK Centres Network Accelerator Award. “Accelerating drug discovery through a networked structural biology resource”.

2012-2017       Astex Strategic Drug Discovery Alliance (Astex Pharmaceuticals, Newcastle University and CRT) Lead PIs (Newcastle): C. Cano, J.A. Endicott, R.J. Griffin, I.R. Hardcastle, R. Maxwell, D.R. Newell, M.E.M. Noble and S. Wedge

External research roles and memberships

2016-present  Diamond Peer Review Panel 1

2016-present  MRC Non-Clinical Training and Career Development Panel

2013-present  Member, The Biochemical Journal Editorial Advisory Panel

2013-present  RCaH, SAC, (Chair 2016-2018)

2012-present  Fellow, Royal Society of Biology

Honours and awards

2014    MRC Suffrage Science Award


Research interests

Structural and functional characterisation of the cyclin-dependent protein kinase (CDK) family
Development of small molecule CDK inhibitors
Biophysical assays and structure determination for anti-cancer drug design

Current work

The growth and division of cells is strictly controlled at the molecular level by a number of enzymes that include the cyclin dependent protein kinases (CDKs). CDKs 1, 2, 4 and 6 are switched on and off in an orderly sequence, to ensure that cell division starts and stops at the required time. Other members of the CDK family (for example CDKs 7, 8 and 9) are also important for the control of transcription, the process by which genes are transcribed into messenger RNA that in turn serves as the template for protein synthesis. Regulation of transcription ensures the timely expression of proteins required for cell growth and differentiation. Errors in either the control of cell cycle progression or transcription can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and proliferation.

Although CDK family members are closely related in sequence, biological studies have revealed that each has unique properties. Our work, primarily using the technique of X-ray crystallography, allows us to see the structures of CDKs and the complexes they form at atomic resolution and to learn how they differ from each other. To this end we characterise and reconstitute selected CDK-containing complexes using heterologous expression systems and then study them by structural, biochemical, biophysical and cell-based methods. Aberrant CDK activity has been linked to cancer, neurological diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis. CDK-selective inhibitors in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer act by binding to the CDK active site to block CDK activity. Compounds that block other interactions made by CDK-cyclin complexes represent an alternative target for CDK-directed therapies. The work described in this project will aid the further development of such compounds and may also reveal additional targets for inhibitor development.

For further details about our work, please visit the Cell Cycle Structural Biology and Structural Biology sections of Cancer Drug Discovery Research at the NICR. 

Selected Publications

Brown, N.R., Korolchuk, S., Martin, M., Moukhametzianov, R., Stanley, W. Noble, M.E.M. and Endicott, J.A. (2015) CDK1 structures reveal conserved and unique features of the essential cell cycle CDK. Nature Comms, 6: 6769.

Anscombe, E, Meschini, E., Staunton, D., Wang, L.Z., Golding,B.T., Newell, D.R., Noble, M.E.M., Endicott, J.A. and Griffin, R.J. (2015) Identification and characterisation of an irreversible inhibitor of CDK2. Chem Biol, 22, 1159-64.

Endicott, J.A., Noble, M.E.M. and Johnson, L.N. (2012) The structural basis for control of eukaryotic protein kinases. Ann Rev Biochem 81, 587-613.

Baumli, S., Hole, A.J., L.-Z. Wang, Noble, M.E.M and Endicott, J.A. (2012) The CDK9 C-terminal tail determines the reaction pathway of positive transcription elongation factor b. Structure 20,1788-95.

Takaki, T., Echalier, A., Brown, N.R., Hunt, T., Endicott, J.A., and Noble, M.E.M., (2009) The structure of CDK4/cyclin D3 has implications for models of CDK activation. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 106, 4171-4176. 

Theme web pages

Cell Cycle Structural Biology
Cancer Drug Discovery



Teaching and supervision

PhD and MRes student supervision

I look forward to welcoming Masters and undergraduate project students with an interest in

            Cell cycle regulation

            CDK structural biology

Undergraduate course BGM2002, Cell cycle CDKs: Structure and Function

External examining and teaching

BCA/CCP4 Protein Crystallography Summer School, lectures covering protein expression, purification and crystallisation

Part III, Biochemistry course, University of Cambridge