Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne

DFG approved: Funding for new CRC 1678 on mRNA Research and Extension for the Mito-CRC 1218

10/06/2024

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved a new Collaborative Research Center in mRNA research and extended funding for the CRC 1218 on mitochondria

Prof. Dr. Andreas Beyer - spokesperson of the CRC 1678

Prof. Dr. Elena Rgarli - spokesperson of the CRC 1218

Two Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) including principal investigators belonging to CECAD and the CMMC received funding from the DFG together with other CRCs at the University of Cologne. A new CRC investigating the effects of errors in the production of mRNA and proteins was established, and the existing CRC in the field of mitochondrial research will enter its third and final phase.

"I congratulate all the scientists involved on this success. We are delighted that the projects we applied for are being funded. The funding approval shows that the University of Cologne is an excellent location for forward-looking and socially highly relevant research," says Professor Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, Rector of the University of Cologne.

Better understanding of age-related mRNA errors
The new CRC 1678 "Systemic Consequences of Fidelity Changes in mRNA and Protein Biosynthesis" investigates why more errors occur in the production of mRNAs and proteins with increasing age and how these changes affect cells and the organism as a whole.

The genome in our cells contains the blueprints for all the proteins that carry out all the essential functions in our body. In order to produce proteins, the genetic information in the cells is first transcribed into mRNA, which is then used to produce proteins. Although the biosynthesis of mRNAs and proteins has already been very well researched, a comprehensive picture of what happens when these processes no longer function reliably is still lacking. The work of the researchers involved in the CRC has already shown that this reduced reliability leads to the development of diseases and age-related physical changes. Thanks to new technologies, the researchers can now investigate the effects of errors in mRNA and protein production in more detail. The team of experts in molecular and cell biology, systems biology and bioinformatics will combine molecular biological methods with computer-aided models to understand the relationships between the processes.

The researchers' long-term goal is to understand how these errors can lead to diseases in humans. New therapeutic approaches are to be identified with the help of the funding. A special feature of the CRC is the systematic analysis of interactions between different cellular processes. "This absolutely requires an interdisciplinary team of scientists who might otherwise never work together in this constellation," says spokesperson Professor Dr. Andreas Beyer from the Institute of Genetics. Beyer is also a research group leader at the CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC).

The partners are the Universities of Hamburg, Mainz and Göttingen, the Max Planck Institutes for Biology of Ageing and for Molecular Genetics and ETH Zurich.

 

Therapeutic strategies against mitochondrial diseases
The CRC 1218 "Regulation of cellular function by mitochondria" is also entering its third funding period. The focus here is on the "power plants of the cells". The CRC investigates how mitochondria communicate with cells and adapt their function to changing physiological conditions. A better understanding of the functional dynamics of mitochondria is an important prerequisite for targeted research into various diseases caused by mitochondrial defects. On this basis, new therapeutic strategies could be developed.

The spokesperson of the SFB 1218 is Professor Dr. Elena Rugarli. She is a scientist at the Institute of Genetics and working group leader at the CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC). She says: "Over the next few years, Cologne will consolidate its role as a leading center of mitochondrial research and further uncover the fundamental role of these organelles in regulating a variety of cellular processes. The CRC brings together a multidisciplinary group of scientists, allowing us to tackle questions from complementary angles and explore the role of mitochondria in different contexts, from immune response to cancer."

In addition to the University of Cologne as the host university, the Max Planck Institutes for Biology of Ageing, for Metabolism Research and for Biophysics as well as a project at the University of Bonn are also involved.
 

Further information
See the full article, including all the CRCs which have been funded by the DFG on the main website of the University of Cologne.
https://portal.uni-koeln.de/en/universitaet/aktuell/press-releases/single-news/new-collaborative-research-centre-and-four-extensions-for-the-university-of-cologne
[This is only an extract of the full article]

More info also available directly on the DFG website: https://www.dfg.de/de/service/presse/pressemitteilungen/2024/pressemitteilung-nr-23

Original press relase by Press and communication - University of Cologne
Jan Voelkel - j.voelkel@verw.uni-koeln.de