Temperature-controlled alternative splicing and gene expression: From innate immunity in mammals to priming and memory in plants

Prof. Dr. Florian Heyd

October 02, 2020

Our lab is interested in the regulation and functional consequences of alternative splicing

We have recently shown that rhythmic (time-of-the-day dependent) alternative splicing is controlled by rhythmic changes in body temperature (Preussner et al., Mol Cell, 2017). In more recent work, we have characterized a family of kinases (CLKs) whose activity reacts extremely sensitively to changes in temperature and suggest that these kinases couple changes in body temperature to altered alternative splicing and gene expression (Haltenhof et al., Mol Cell, 2020; Strauch and Heyd, FEBS J, 2020). CLKs phosphorylate SR proteins, which are central regulators of all aspects of (pre-)mRNA processing. We are now interested in analyzing the functionality of body temperature controlled CLK activity and SR protein phosphorylation in different settings. One example is the control of innate immunity and the response to viral infection by changes in body temperature. We are also addressing the molecular basis for thermotherapy in the context of cancer and potentially other diseases. Another aspect of temperature controlled kinase activation we are currently analyzing is evolutionary conservation. For example, we have shown that the CLK homologs in plants (e.g. in A. thaliana) are also highly temperature sensitive. We are now investigating the role of these kinases in temperature sensing and a potential role in priming and memory in plants. Candidates interested in the above topics or related questions who have a strong background in molecular or cell biology and/or bioinformatics are welcome to apply.

For more information have a look at the website of the RNA Biochemistry group.

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