Our group joined the EMBL in 1989. At the time, cytoplasmic gene regulation by RNA-binding proteins was quite a peripheral entity in gene regulation. This has now changed profoundly. Our major focus is on unraveling the roles of RNA-binding proteins, especially RNA-binding enzymes and their importance in connecting gene regulation and metabolism. This explores novel mechanisms of riboregulation, where the enzymatic activity is regulated through binding of RNA to the protein.
The model systems that we examine range from yeast and mammalian cell lines to transgenic and knockout mice. We combine systems level approaches with detailed mechanistic and biochemical analyses.
“Molecular Medicine” represents the other central interest of our work. Our primary orientation is to elucidate disease mechanisms as a starting point for insight-based clinical interventions. Specifically, we are interested in diseases of iron metabolism. Furthermore, we work on nonsense-mediated decay (NMD), which is important in many genetic diseases and serves to degrade mRNAs with mutations leading to premature translation termination codons. We closely cooperate with the “Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU)”, an innovative and interdisciplinary unit that is jointly run by the University of Heidelberg and the EMBL. The MMPU is co-directed by Andreas Kulozik (Heidelberg University) and Matthias Hentze (EMBL).