Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Heisenberg-Professorship

Molecular Principles of Germline Development

Our goal is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of animal reproductive tissue.

We investigate all stages of germ cell development, reaching from germ line stem cell self-renewal – via gametogenesis – to embryonic germ cell precursor specification. In particular, we aim to identify and characterize universal principles of cytoplasmic gene expression regulation, studying developmentally regulated protein synthesis and turnover. Ultimately, we aim to uncover fundamental principles of sexual reproduction and provide molecular explanations for derived pathological aberrations.

The development and physiology of Caenorhabitis elegans germ cells provides us with an ideal biological framework for our systems level and multi-scale approaches. By focusing on the patterning of the adult germ line tissue, we discovered mRNA-regulatory networks that dynamically deploy RNA-modifying enzymes and RNA-binding proteins to produce protein expression patterns essential for germ line development. Moreover, we uncovered somatic programs that protect germ cells from dietary insults.

We currently ask the following main questions:

  1. How do the emerging RNA-regulatory networks control cytoplasmic gene expression?
  2. How are individual RNA network components developmentally regulated?
  3. How are gene expression networks wired and influenced by somatic cells and animal physiology?


Figure shows a complete female gonad, immunostained for an RNA-regulatory 
protein (red) expressed in germline stem cells (left hand side) and oocytes (to 
your right) and a different RNA-regulatory protein (green) expressed post-
mitotic immature germ cells. Note, all germ cells have cytoplasmic staining and 
with the exception of oocytes are syncytial.

Figure shows a complete female gonad, immunostained for an RNA-regulatory protein (red) expressed in germline stem cells (left hand side) and oocytes (to your right) and a different RNA-regulatory protein (green) expressed post- mitotic immature germ cells. Note, all germ cells have cytoplasmic staining and with the exception of oocytes are syncytial.

Figure shows a complete female gonad, immunostained for an RNA-regulatory
protein (red) expressed in germline stem cells (left hand side) and oocytes (to
your right) and a different RNA-regulatory protein (green) expressed post-
mitotic immature germ cells. Note, all germ cells have cytoplasmic staining and
with the exception of oocytes are syncytial.

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