Mihaela Zavolan
RNA Regulatory Networks Group
University of Basel
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What do we do?

Individual cells of a body exhibit a stunning diversity of phenotypes, despite carrying a largely identical genetic makeup. The differences between, say, a neuron and a muscle cell are thus determined by the distinct ways in which the same genetic information can be read, interpreted and translated into function. This multifaceted process has been a major focus of study over the last decade, during which scientists have unveiled several additional layers of complexity. At the RNA Regulatory Networks (RRN) Group at the Biozentrum in Basel we use both experimental and computational methods to discover and understand the regulatory networks governing the interpretation of genetic information at the level of tissues and single cells.

Highlights 2016

A first highlight of 2016 was the discovery of a novel regulator of pre-mRNA 3’ end processing. Through the computational analysis of many 3’ end sequencing data sets we found that the HNRNPC, a protein so far known as a splicing regulator, affects the choice of 3’ end processing sites. These in turn determine the sequence of the 3’ untranslated regions of transcripts and, further, their localization and translation. A second highlight was the quantification of ribosomal protein expression heterogeneity across human cell types. In this study we found that hematopoietic cells exhibit a striking lineage-specific expression of certain ribosomal proteins, as do malignant cells. These patterns of ribosomal protein expression can be explained through both transcription regulator and copy number variation, and have prognostic value in cancers.

Main publications 2016

  • Gruber AJ et al. A comprehensive analysis of 3' end sequencing data sets reveals novel  polyadenylation signals and the repressive role of heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein C on cleavage and polyadenylation. Genome Res. 2016 Aug;26(8):1145-59.
  • Jorjani H, et al. An updated human snoRNAome. Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Jun 20;44(11):5068-82.
  • Guimaraes JC, Zavolan M. Patterns of ribosomal protein expression specify normal and malignant human cells. Genome Biol. 2016 Nov 24;17(1):236.

Our research topics: