Mark your calendar – there will be an exciting talk on October 20th! Dierk Niessing (affiliated with both the Biomedical Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and the Institute of Structural Biology of the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich) will present fascinating data on how RNPs assemble and how mRNA localization is achieved.
In eukaryotes asymmetric localization of mRNAs and their local translation is a universal mechanism to generate cellular asymmetry. It is required for diverse processes such as embryogenesis, stem cell division and differentiation of somatic cells. For localization the transcripts are selectively recognized by motor-protein containing particles and actively transported along the cytoskeleton. Despite its importance, the molecular basis of this spatial and temporal control of gene expression is not well understood. The Niessing lab took advantage of the fact that mRNA localization in budding yeast involves considerably fewer core factors than in higher eukaryotes. In S.cerevisiae the ASH1 mRNA and about 30 other transcripts are actively transported from the mother to the daughter cell by a myosin-containing complex. At the tip of the daughter cell ASH1 mRNA then becomes locally translated.
Employing biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches, Dierk’s lab has studied in molecular detail the assembly of all core components of the ASH1 mRNA-transport complex. Moreover, they have succeeded to in vitro reconstitute transport complexes, motile particles with the size of about 1mDa, and characterized key features of their biogenesis and activation. Together these insights serve as one of the best-understood examples of how cells generate cellular asymmetry on the molecular level.
Dierk is a full professor at the Biomedical Center of the Deptartment of Cell Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and deputy director of the Institute of Structural Biology of the Helmholtz Zentrum München. He is also the speaker of the recently funded DFG Research Unit FOR2333 ‘Macromolecular Complexes in mRNA Localization’, a multidisciplinary research consortium that addresses principles of gene regulation by directional RNA transport and local translation.