Research Focus

RNA molecules are not only short-lived carriers of information encoding proteins, but fulfill a variety of essential cellular functions ranging from enzymatic activities to providing large-scale scaffolds to intricate riboregulatory mechanisms controlling cell signaling and homeostasis. Despite their simple composition of only four building blocks, RNAs, like proteins, adopt complex 3D structures that are essential for their cellular function. The function of RNA is thus determined by both its sequence and its folding.
Our group investigates how structure formation affects the function and interactome of mRNAs in human cells, bacteria and viruses. We use structural probing and massively parallel reporter assays coupled with next generation sequencing to decipher RNA folding and its functional consequences. In addition, we use and develop high-throughput methods to study the RNA-binding preferences of proteins with the aim of understanding how RNA-protein interactions shape cellular decisions. In a second line of research, we characterize the interactions between RNA and small molecules to learn how to effectively modulate RNA function and to inform RNA-targeted drug discovery campaigns.

mRNA structures

The three-dimensional structure of an mRNA determines its cellular localization, stability and translation efficiency. We are working on the identification and characterization of mRNA structures that determine post-transcriptional gene regulation.

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mRNA stability

HnRNP DL is a paralog of the well studied hnRNP D/AUF1, which is well known for its function in mRNA decay. We are interested in the cellular functions and mRNA targets of hnRNP DL and its interconnection with hnRNP D.

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Hypoxia adaptation

Gene expression is regulated at all levels in response to hypoxia, ensuring cell survival at low oxygen conditions. We are particularly interested in how alternative splicing changes affect cellular adaptation.

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Synthetic Biology

One goal of Synthetic Biology is the development of artificial genetic circuits. For this purpose, we create RNA devices by functionalization of endogenous RNAs with ligand-binding aptamers.

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Group Spring 2024

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We are always looking for motivated and enthusiastic students.
Please inquire for internships, practical year, bachelor and master theses.