Our group joined the EMBL in 1989. At the time, Cytoplasmic Gene Regulation was quite a peripheral entity in gene regulation. This has now changed profoundly. Our major focus is on the regulation of protein synthesis by RNA-binding proteins.
The model systems that we examine range from Drosophila and mammalian cell lines to transgenic and knockout mice. The central questions are: How can RNA-protein interactions regulate the fate of specific mRNAs in the cytoplasm? What are the biological effects and consequences for the organism?
“Molecular Medicine” represents the other central interest of our work. Our primary orientation is to elucidate mechanisms that are important in human disease, i.e. we focus on understanding disease mechanisms more than on immediate “clinical relevance”. Specifically, we are interested in the role of iron metabolism and oxidative stress in tissue injury and degeneration (ischemia-reperfusion injury, Parkinson’s disease) as well as in the very common (1:400) genetic disease hemochromatosis. 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).