Molecular Genetics

Prof. Dr. H. Ulrich Göringer

Molecular model of the editosome from African trypanosomes
Molecular model of the editosome from African trypanosomes

Research in the lab is focused on specific aspects of gene expression in protozoan-type parasites such as African trypanosomes. Trypanosomes are pathogenic organisms that cause human diseases including African sleeping sickness as well as related diseases in livestock. The resulting suffering and economic loss, mainly in underdeveloped countries, is very large and to date no vaccination for any of the diseases is available.

One focus of our work is an RNA processing reaction known as RNA editing. Editing takes place within the mitochondria of trypanosomes and regulates gene expression by adding and deleting uridine nucleotides into otherwise non-functional primary transcripts. The reaction relies on the catalytic activity of a high molecular mass protein complex, the “editosome”. RNA editing is required for the survival of the parasite and as such the processing reaction represents a perfect molecular target for directed drug design approaches.

A second line of research is aimed at the development of nucleic acid pharmaceuticals for the treatment of trypanosome-induced diseases. We use the SELEX-technology to isolate RNA molecules that specifically bind to surface components of the trypanosome cell. Such “aptamers” can be modified to function as therapeutic and/or diagnostic tools against trypanosome infections.

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Recent Literature


DFG-SFB902 – Sonderforschungsbereich 902: Molecular Principles of RNA-based Regulation

DFG-SPP1857 ESSENCE – Electromagnetic Sensors for Life Sciences