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Structural Biology of mRNA Localization

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Research Group Leader:
Fulvia Bono
Birgit Moldovan
+49 7071 601-1309
+49 7071 601-1308
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The localization of certain mRNAs at specific sites within the cytoplasm plays a crucial role in the development of a wide range of organisms. Such mRNAs are assembled into transport particles that contain multiple copies of the mRNA along with regulatory proteins that allow attachment to motor proteins on the cytoskeleton and direct the mRNAs to their final location. The molecular basis for the assembly of transport particles remains a major unanswered question in the field. One of the better studied examples of a mRNP component able to influence downstream events in mRNA metabolism is the exon junction complex (EJC), a key regulator of oskar mRNA localization in Drosophila. Structural studies on this complex showed how it maintains a stable grip on the mRNA and how cofactors in the cytoplasm might help to disassemble the complex. We are also interested in how EJC components are recycled back to the nucleus in order to be re-incorporated in new mRNPs. This last aspect brought us to study the relatively large molecular assemblies of import-cargo complexes and their regulation by RanGTP. We aim to use biochemical and structural methods to study the intermediate states in the EJC cycle to gain a mechanistic understanding of how the system works.


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