Structural biology of mRNA localization.

Research group leader: Fulvia Bono
Assistant Birgit Moldovan
Phone: +49 7071 601-1309
Fax: +49 7071 601-1308
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The localization of certain mRNAs to specific sites in the cytoplasm plays a critical role in the development of a variety of organisms. Such mRNAs are assembled into transport particles that contain multiple copies of the mRNA along with regulatory proteins that allow binding to motor proteins of the cytoskeleton and direct the mRNAs to their final location. The molecular basis for the assembly of the transport particles remains an important unanswered question in the field. One of the best-studied examples of an mRNP component capable of influencing downstream events in mRNA metabolism is the exon junction complex (EJC), a key regulator of oskar mRNA localization in Drosophila. Structural studies of this complex have revealed how it maintains a stable hold on mRNA and how cofactors in the cytoplasm might help to disassemble the complex. We are also interested in how the EJC components are recycled back to the nucleus for incorporation into new mRNPs. This last aspect has led us to investigate the relatively large molecular assemblies of the import-cargo complexes and their regulation by RanGTP. Our goal is to use biochemical and structural methods to investigate the intermediate states in the EJC cycle to gain a mechanistic understanding of how the system functions.


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