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Impact of RNA modifications on neuronal fate

Project description

RNA modifications in neural development

Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are emerging as key regulators of a plethora of sophisticated molecular pathways. The EU-funded Rn7SKmod project will focus on Rn7sk, a ncRNA that modulates the transcriptional output of RNA polymerase II. The aim is to characterise the RNA modifications in this molecule and determine how they affect the recruitment of protein partners. Using RNA mass spectrometry and genome-wide sequencing, scientists will investigate the impact of these modifications on neuronal cell fate and brain development. The project's results will provide fundamental insight into the regulation of neural development and the involvement of RNA modifications.


The Epitranscriptome is the assembly of over 170 chemical RNA modifications that play fundamental roles in the majority of cellular processes. RNA modifying enzymes and proper control of neuronal cell fate are essential for brain development and dysfunction in any of these processes results in severe neurodevelopmental disorders. To date, the role of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) as key regulators of sophisticated molecular pathways is becoming increasingly clear. A key regulatory ncRNA that modulates the transcriptional output of RNA polymerase II is Rn7sk. Other abundant ncRNAs, like transfer RNAs and ribosomal RNAs, are highly modified; yet the modifications occurring in Rn7sk are largely unknown. In this proposal, I aim to investigate the Rn7sk RNA modification status and the impact of these modifications on neuronal cell fate and brain development. To accomplish this, I will; i) Characterize Rn7sk RNA modifications using a highly sensitive RNA mass spectrometry approach and evaluate the impact of selected modifications in recruiting protein binding partners using stable isotope labelling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) based mass spectrometry; ii) Determine the biological function of selected Rn7sk modifications during neuronal differentiation using genetically manipulated embryonic cell lines; iii) Investigate the role of Rn7sk during brain development using genome-wide sequencing technologies and a forebrain-specific Rn7sk knock-out mouse model. Results stemming from this project will reveal several novel aspects about how neuronal fate is controlled by tiny RNA modifications. My ultimate ambition is to establish my own laboratory and become an independent research leader in the field of Epitranscriptomics. This proposal, with the support from the experienced Prof Frye and the excellent host institute, DKFZ, is key for me to reach my goal.


Net EU contribution
€ 162 806,40
69120 Heidelberg

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Baden-Württemberg Karlsruhe Heidelberg, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 162 806,40