RNA performs many diverse and essential roles that considerably transcend merely being the transmitter of the genetic information.
The last decade led to the identification of a plethora of regulatory RNAs participating in crucial steps of gene expression.
The molecular basis originates from the conformational flexibility and functional versatility of this macromolecule:
like proteins, RNA can adopt complex three-dimensional structures for the precise presentation of chemical moieties which is
essential for its function as a biological catalyst, regulator or structural scaffold.
Our key interest is to study how RNA exerts regulation and to use this information to engineer complex genetic circuits. A main focus of our research is the development of engineered riboswitches which can be used as genetic regulatory devices for synthetic biology. These regulatory elements base on direct RNA-ligand interaction and are perfect model systems to study the molecular basis underlying this novel type of regulation.
In addition, we study the function of naturally occurring non-coding RNAs both in pro- and eukaryotes, evolve aptamers which influence protein activities and analyze their function both in vitro and in vivo.