Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - RNPNET ("RNPnet" - RNP structure, function and mechanism of action)

RNA molecules are at the heart of life. It is now commonly admitted that nearly all the human genome is transcribed, and a wealth of new coding and non-coding RNAs have been discovered. Importantly, modern RNAs are never naked, but always exist in complex with proteins to form RNPs (Ribonucleoproteins). In the case of non-coding RNAs, these proteins are usually stably associated with the RNA and help to perform their function. In contrast, RNA binding proteins are usually transiently bound to coding RNAs, and control various aspects of their metabolism. For the next generation of scientists, a great challenge will be to understand the function and the mechanisms of action of the myriads of RNPs.
The goal of this ITN (RNPnet) was to bring together existing labs from different discipline, to join forces and tackle key questions in the field, and second, to produce highly-trained young researchers that will be sensitized to RNA and possess a multidisciplinary approach to research. 16 ESRs were trained studying RNPs involved in three topics: mRNA surveillance, RNA splicing and RNA editing. In addition, the ESRs attended two summer schools organized by the PIs from both academia and industry, and several workshops with world-class speakers to strengthen their education.
Among the 16 ESR, four already graduated and many more should graduate in 2016. All ESRs performed at least one secondment in one of the network lab, each of them benefiting strongly from the multidisciplinary opportunities offered by RNPnet.
Important discoveries have been made via RNPnet like the structures of key components of mRNA Non-sense mediated decay pathway and of the RNA methylation machinery. Also, progress toward understanding the role of RNA binding proteins in neurodegenerative disease has been made by groups of RNPnet. More fundamental results on the sequence-specific binding, resident time and genome-wide binding of several RNA binding proteins have been achieved which helped understanding the mechanism of action of these RNPs. This resulted already in seventeen peer-reviewed publication and many more are expected to be published in 2016.
Although the number and quality of the resulting publications is one measure of the success of RNPnet, another legacy of the network can be found in its website http://www.rnpnet.ethz.ch/tiki-index.php?page=homepage. There one can find several newsletters the programmes of the students’self-organized workshop and the final conference as well as three short videos that illustrate well the importance of RNP in human disease, the key methods for studying RNPs and the future challenges of the field. In addition, a fourth video illustrates the impact of RNPnet in the field, on the PIs of the network and more importantly on the ESRs. RNPnet has trained 16 PhD students from all over the world in 15 European labs working on RNP research. Those ESRs constitute a new generation of scientists which will certainly impact positively scientific research world-wide considering the critical role of RNP for human health and disease.

Reported by

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
Switzerland
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