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Dynamics of Ribonucleic Acid-Protein-Complexes

Research Area C

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 will be investigated in CEF-II. The molecular function of ribosomes involves highly ordered, yet dynamic processes, of which translation initiation and termination, including quality control mechanisms, will be investigated. 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 and miRNAs. These RNAs will therefore be investigated to obtain a global picture of the RNA and RNP dynamics that are fundamental for a multitude of cellular processes.


Strategic Goals:

• Dynamics and timing of ribosome-biogenesis and function
• Dynamics of RNA and RNP distribution in cells
• Structural dynamics of  RNPs involving non-coding RNAs