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“Deciphering the mRNP code: RNA-bound determinants of post-transcriptional gene regulation”

The question how the expression of eukaryotic protein-coding genes is regulated in response to developmental or environmental cues has fascinated many generations of researchers. While earlier research focused on transcription as the crucial event in gene expression regulation the “mRNP code” concept implies that specific sets of proteins, non-coding RNAs and other molecules bind to individual mRNAs, thereby controlling gene expression at the post-transcriptional level.

This initiative brings together researchers from disciplines as diverse as systems biology, biochemistry, structural biology and bioinformatics to develop and apply methods allowing insight into the composition of mRNPs, how they are assembled and remodeled and how they function in specific cellular settings. To “decipher the mRNP code”, our overarching goal, we combine data of individual disciplines and projects and subject them to a systematic computational analysis. This will enable the recognition of general principles and patterns of gene regulation by components of the mRNP. Understanding the mRNP code will change our view of how the regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level is accomplished. In addition, as many known diseases have their cause in defects in mRNP metabolism, our research is expected to have also major impact for biomedical research.