I studied Biology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald and the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg. In Erlangen, I also did my PhD in the lab of Wolfgang Hillen studying structure-function relationship of a bacterial repressor protein TetR. It was the time when scientists discovered that RNA is more than simply the blueprint of our genome but that it has important cellular functions on its own. Therefore I decided to study this interesting biomolecule, with a special focus on the use of in vitro selected RNA molecules, so called aptamers, as molecular switches. During my time as junior group leader, I spent some time as research fellow in the lab of Ron Breaker (Yale University) and Renee Schroeder (Vienna University). In 2007, I was appointed associated professor for Chemical Biology, and in 2013, full professor for Synthetic Biology at the Technical University, Darmstadt. Still, RNA is my main interest, and I want to understand how RNA molecules can exert regulation.
About the lab
Our lab at the Technical University Darmstadt is located at the Biocampus, close to a beautiful botanical garden. We are currently 3 post docs, 7 PhD students, 2 technicians and an independent junior research group with additional 2 PhD students. The lab members have different study background from biology, chemistry, pharmacy and bioinformatics which provide and open and interdisciplinary working environment. Beside this, we have a lot of fun during lab retreats, X-mas parties or other group events.
About the project
Project 5: RNA-based sensors are key elements in the MetaRNA network. This project deals with the identification and characterization of RNA aptamers that can be used as flux-sensing molecules. In vitro selected metabolite-binding aptamers will be characterized by structural probing both in vitro and under cellular conditions. For this work, we will use a number of biochemical and biophysical methods to characterize RNA aptamer structures in detail.
Project 6: Cellular conditions often influence the structure and consequently the function of RNA molecules. Therefore, appropriate screening systems are important to identify RNA aptamers with riboswitch function. In this project, we will develop screening systems for different organisms to optimize RNA-based flux sensors. Different techniques, such as molecular cloning, microscopy and fluorescence based cell sorting (FACS), will be applied.