By: Christoph Dieterich, Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Köln & Section of Bioinformatics and Systems Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital Heidelberg

Title: Computational Biology of RNA Editing in ncRNAs



The flow of genetic information from DNA to proteins has been traditionally seen as a linear pathway with an RNA intermediate. Instead of just being an inert carrier of information, RNA performs a multitude of tasks and may be even transformed in the course of these events. For example, mRNA stability and translation efficiency is regulated by secondary structure and/or interaction with microRNAs, ncRNAs and RNA binding proteins (RBPs). Moreover, RNA editing modifies the primary sequence and changes in RNA localization influence the availability of RNA molecules. These emerging processes and interaction networks are subsumed under the term "post-transcriptional gene regulation" and have an impact on numerous cellular processes. Novel technologies in nucleic acids sequencing, mass spectrometry and imaging provide high-throughput data at an unprecedented depth and level of detail. The Dieterich Lab exploits these data source to leverage and deepen our understanding of post-transcriptional gene regulation on a systemic level. Typical questions revolve around the quality assessment of these data sources, their computational processing, statistical analyses and ways to visualize and integrate them. They are especially interested in:

  • Which RNA molecules are present (in terms of sequence, structure and numbers)?
  • What RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions take place and what is the site of interaction?
  • What is the inter-individual variability of these processes?
  • Are these processes age-dependent and what is the effect of disregulation on life span?