Investigating RNA-based regulation of the cardiovascular system

Goethe University and TU Munich have jointly obtained a new Collaborative Research Centre (Sonderforschungsbereich - SFB), which will receive approximately € 11 million in funding from the German Research Foundation over the next four years. An additional SFB on RNA research has been extended for the second time. The funding of two powerful research collaborations underlines the excellent work being done in the field of RNA research at Goethe University.

The new SFB comprising a consortium of 30 renowned researchers will investigate the influence non-coded RNAs have on the development, regulation and cellular processes of the cardiovascular system. The extended SFB deals with the structure and function of different RNA variants in biology and chemistry.

Ribonucleic acids, or RNAs, were long considered merely messenger molecules that coded genetic information for the creation of proteins. Meanwhile, it is known that over 90 percent of the RNA molecules carry out an astonishing variety of other tasks. Many of them regulate processes within the cell (siRNA, miRNA and sRNA) and others create fascinating three-dimensional structures and serve as enzymes of switches for cellular processes. Non-coded RNAs also play a significant role in cardiovascular diseases.

The new trans-regional SFB "Non-coding RNA in the cardiovascular system," coordinated by Professor Stefanie Dimmeler from the Institute for Cardiovascular Regeneration at Goethe University Frankfurt and Professor Stefan Engelhardt from the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at TUM will research how non-coded RNA is created and transported in the cardiovascular system. It will furthermore look into how it influences cellular processes and which role it plays in the occurrence and cure of cardiovascular diseases. Over the long term, the collaborative also hopes to find new therapeutic target molecules.

Additional partners are the Ludwig-Maximilian's-Universität (LMU), the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, and the Hannover Medical School.

SFB begins third funding period

The focus of the extended SFB "Molecular Principles of RNA-based regulation", headed by Professor Harald Schwalbe, Institute for Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is the function of RNA in chemistry and biology. The researchers from Goethe University and TU Darmstadt are particularly interested in how RNAs regulate gene expression. During the first two funding periods (eight years in total), the researchers established diverse spectroscopic methods to decode the structure of the complex macromolecules. These methods are now to be transferred from in vitro systems (prepared molecules in test tubes) to living systems (in vivo). The researchers expect new insights into the function of different RNA variants in living cells.

Stefanie Dimmeler and Harald Schwalbe agree:

The continuing funding of RNA research in Frankfurt will help Goethe University bolster its status as pioneer in this field."

Source: Goethe University

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