RNA RESEARCH CENTER IN POZNAŃ
The rapidly developing field of studies on ribonucleic acids (RNA) provides essential information about the basic mechanisms of life, and is crucial for the development of new technologies and medicines. The Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of Polish Academy of Sciences (IBCh) and the Faculty of Biology of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (AMU) have been continuously involved in RNA research since the late 1960s. In Poland, these institutions compose a unique center of expertise on RNA related processes, which is recognized worldwide. In 2011, the consortium RNA Research Center in Poznan was formed by these two institutions. In 2013 the RNA Research Center in Poznań has been awarded a status of a National Leading Research Center in Poland. The institutions have been involved in collaborative research projects, and shared organization of scientific conferences and joint research seminars, organized each year. Additionally, our institutions are organizing together seminars and scientific meetings as RNA Salon Poznań of the RNA Society.
The research at the IBCh, which was founded by Prof. Maciej Wiewiorowski, was initially focused on the development of the methods of nucleic acids chemical synthesis, and the properties of nucleosides and nucleotides. This resulted in seminal discoveries related to the chemical synthesis of RNA. Presently, the wide range of studies includes non-coding RNAs, RNA molecules involved in neurodegenerative diseases, cancer development, and viral infections.
The RNA research at the AMU Faculty of Biology was initiated by Prof. Jacek Augustyniak. At the beginning, studies focused on transfer RNAs, their genes, and the maturation processes of precursor tRNA transcripts. Presently, the RNA research at the AMU Faculty of Biology involves multiple topics, such as the structure and function of microRNAs, alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs, bacterial regulatory RNAs, and RNA-based gene therapies.
The expertise of both institutions encompasses major fields of modern RNA research, including studies of RNA-dependent human diseases, and the development of new therapeutic strategies. Our major research interests converge on six main topics of particular biological and biomedical importance.
NON-CODING RNA: BIOGENESIS and FUNCTION
Research groups of our institutions are involved in the studies of different aspects of non-coding RNA biogenesis, structure, and function in animals, plants and bacteria. These studies include exploration of gene expression regulation, structure and function of human miRNAs (Department of Molecular and Systems Biology [IBCh], Department of Molecular Genetics [IBCh]) and lncRNAs (Laboratory of Integrative Genomics [AMU]), mechanisms of miRNA biogenesis, and the structure and function of plant miRNAs (Laboratory of Gene Expression [AMU]), mechanisms of action of Dicer and related ribonucleases (Department of Ribonucleoprotein Biochemistry [IBCh]), and the structure and function of small RNAs in bacteria (Laboratory of RNA Biochemistry [AMU]).
THE COMPLEX LIFE OF mRNA: FROM SYNTHESIS TO DECAY
The mechanisms involved in mRNA synthesis, processing, translation and decay are among the most complex in life, and are controlled by intricate regulatory networks. The research groups of our institutions are involved in the studies of transcription termination (Laboratory of Genomic Regulation [AMU]), regulation of mRNA splicing (Laboratory of Gene Expression [AMU]), RNA processing (Laboratory of RNA Processing [AMU]), mRNA structure and translation (Department of RNA Biochemistry [IBCh]), and post-transcriptional RNA uridylation (Department of RNA Metabolism [IBCh]).
RNA AND DISEASE: PATHOMECHANISMS AND THERAPEUTIC STRATEGIES
Research groups of our institutions have been strongly involved in the studies of pathogenesis and experimental treatment of human genetic diseases, including diseases caused by triplet repeat expansions. Our RNA research groups are involved in the studies of the molecular pathomechanism and therapeutic approaches for myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) (Laboratory of Gene Therapy [AMU]) and polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases such as Huntington’s disease (HD) and spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) (Department of Genome Engineering [IBCh], Department of Medical Bioengineering [IBCh]). Additionally, the Laboratory of RNA Processing [AMU], is involved in the studies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
A major goal of our studies is the structural and functional characterization of RNA-based viral genomes (RNA viruses and retroviruses). The studies of our research groups have been focused among others on HCV (Department of Molecular and Systems Biology [IBCh]), retroviruses (Department of Structure and Function of Retrotransposons [IBCh]), influenza (Department of RNA Structural Genomics [IBCh]) and SARS/COVID-2.
A major focus of RNA bioinformatics groups in RNA Research Center are the biological questions that are addressed using NGS technologies, and also the development of new computational methods and databases. Our research involves studies of retrotransposons and noncoding RNA genes, and their roles in human diseases (Laboratory of Integrative Genomics [AMU]), as well as the analysis of gene expression regulation in plants, and RNA-dependent regulatory mechanisms in bacteria (Department of Computational Biology [AMU]). We are also involved in the studies related to prediction and modelling of RNA structures (Department of Structural Bioinformatics [IBCh]), which are enabled by the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center, and the computational studies of protein structures and their interactions (Laboratory of Biomolecular Interactions and Transport [AMU]).
RNA CHEMISTRY AND STRUCTURE
Several research groups are involved in the studies on the synthesis and properties of nucleotides, nucleic acids and their derivatives (Department of Structural Chemistry and Biology of Nucleic Acids [IBCh], Department of Nucleic Acids Bioengineering [IBCh], Department of Chemistry of Nucleic Acids Components [IBCh]) and also in the studies of RNA structure, including the structures of G-quadruplexes analyzed using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (Department of Biomolecular NMR [IBCh]).