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Research Area C

Dynamics of Ribonucleic Acid-Protein-Complexes

Ribonucleic acid-protein complexes (RNPs), an important class of macromolecular assemblies, perform myriad cellular functions. They are composed of proteins and of non-coding or coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs). The RNA components of RNPs often play an essential and active role in regulating the recruitment and assembly of protein cofactors to RNPs and determine the regulatory properties and catalytic activity of these macromolecular machines. The dynamically assembled RNPs are involved in the distribution and homeostasis of coding and non-coding RNAs in the cellular context. A current challenge is to decipher the molecular determinants for RNA and RNP dynamics in cellular function and homeostasis. One prominent RNP is the ribosome, the assembly of which involves many dynamic processes, including interactions between RNA and proteins, their covalent modifications and quality control mechanisms, processes which were investigated in CEF. Many dynamic RNP functions as well as the RNA distribution within cells are guided by RNA-elements which need to be described and for which the landscape of dynamics has to be explored to integrate their function into the understanding of RNPs in general. In addition, RNA elements do not only modulate the activity of RNPs, but often fulfill functions essential for cell viability, as, for example, riboswitches, microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs. These RNAs were therefore investigated to obtain a more global picture of the RNA and RNP dynamics that are fundamental for a multitude of cellular processes.