Meinhart, Anton
Anton Meinhart
Phone: +49 6221 486-505
Fax: +49 6221 486-585

RNA Processing / Bacterial Programmed Cell Death

RNA Processing / Bacterial Programmed Cell Death: Anton Meinhart

RNA is the exclusive messenger that forwards genetic information for protein synthesis to the ribosome. In eucaryotic organisms, genes are transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) by RNA polymerase II in the nucleus. The pre mRNA resides in the nucleus and becomes processed until the mature mRNA can shuttle into the cytosol via the Nuclear Pore Complex. RNA processing conveys protecting attributes to the RNA that makes the RNA more stable but it also ensures protein diversity. For instance, the cap structure protects RNA from 5' - 3' degradation, and different splicoforms of one gene are transcribed, respectively. Thus, mRNA processing is a basic important event in the nucleus that heavily influences gene expression and gene diversity.

Our scientific interest is to understand mRNA processing events, in particular processes that take place at the 3'-end of the RNA. The nascent RNA becomes cleaved and a poly(A) tail is added to the 3'-end, depending on the final purpose of the RNA. Recent research revealed that 3'-end RNA processing is performed by a huge multiprotein complex, the cleavage / polyadenylation machinery. Since 3'-end processing is coupled to mRNA transcription and other mRNA processing events one can suppose that an orchestra of several mulitprotein-complexes build up a conveyor belt for mRNA production and finishing.

Our aim is to gain structural insights into the assembly and function of the cleavage / polyadenylation machinery. Using X-ray protein crystallography techniques combined with Electron Microscopy we plan to establish structural models that can explain how the cleavage / polyadenylation machinery functions at the 3'-end of the mRNA during transcription. We will verify these models with modern biochemical and microbiology methods. Taken together our results will provide structural insight into 3'-end processing of RNA at an atomic level.

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