Centre for Molecular Biology, Max Perutz Labs


  • Department of Chromosome Biology
    • Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Verena Jantsch   

      Research Focus:
      Chromosomes are the biologically relevant form of organization of the genome in all known forms of life. Correct transmission of genetic and epigenetic information, genome stability and the production of germ cells during sexual reproduction are key topics in chromosome biology. These subtopics are medically relevant (cancer, ageing, development, fertility, gene therapy), but also have economic importance (breeding). Here we increase our understanding how the genome maintains its stability, replicates, repairs, recombines, and distributes. Research at the Department of Chromosome Biology is taking advantage of the newest technological developments in genetics (e.g. gene editing and modulation), genomics (e.g. single cell and deep long-distance sequencing), imaging (e.g. super resolution in life cells), and biochemistry (e.g. label-free protein quantification by mass spectrometry) to understand the related mechanisms of chromosome structure, repair, recombination and segregation.   

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  • Department of Microbiology, Immunobiology and Genetics
    • Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Pavel Kovarik

      Research Focus:

      Our research aims at understanding of how immune homeostasis is maintained and how a robust but not exaggerated immune response is accomplished. Defense against infectious agents and damaging cues requires efficient activation of inflammatory response and timely re-establishment of immune homeostasis once the hostile microbial or sterile cues have been eliminated. Unproductive responses result in infectious disease whereas failures in homeostatic processes cause tissue damage and prevent healing. Thus, inflammatory response needs to be strong but quantitatively and timely restricted. Although many of the inflammation-promoting and –controlling processes are known, the basic question of how these processes are coordinated in the context of balanced tissue-protective immune responses remains poorly understood.
      We study the molecular wiring of robust yet controlled inflammation at the level of transcription, mRNA decay and signaling.

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    • Assoz. Prof. Dr. Florian Raible   

      Research Focus:
      Comparisons across animal groups suggests that stem-cell based regeneration – including regeneration of the central nervous system – is likely an ancestral feature, but has been secondarily lost in mammals and other taxa. Annelid worms have unique value for studying this process, as they are known to modulate regenerative capacity by virtue of brain-derived endocrine factors. Moreover, these brain-derived factors orchestrate various other developmental processes – ranging from bristle shapes to the trigger of reproductive maturation, and even the timing of death. Research into individual factors and their function therefore provides unique experimental and mechanistic access to fascinating and fundamental aspects of biology.                                                                                                           
      Our group combines molecular profiling (RNAseq, proteomics), functional experimentation (knock-outs, transgenics), multimodal imaging, cellular profiling (scRNAseq approaches), physiological experiments, and behavioral analyses to advance research into the molecular orchestration of regeneration, reproduction and metamorphosis. Most of our work focuses on the marine bristleworm Platynereis dumerilii that we have helped to push as an experimental system, but we also follow comparative approaches to basal invertebrates (like sponges) and vertebrates. Our efforts in exploring the bristleworm as a unique system for stem cell biology are embedded in a larger Vienna-wide effort to address the molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation and regeneration, including other teams at the Perutz Labs, the Vienna BioCenter and the wider Vienna area.   

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    • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kristin Tessmar-Raible

      Research Focus:
      Bridging from ecology to molecular biology: Biological Timers set by sun and moon.
      The main interest of my lab is to investigate how solar and lunar light are sensed by the nervous system and how this light information impacts on the animals' information processing and endogenous clocks.
      The moon is an important timing cue for numerous marine species, ranging from brown and green algae to corals, worms, fishes and turtles. Such lunar timing typically controls the gonadal maturation and behavioral changes associated with reproductive rhythms. Despite the fundamental nature and widespread occurrence of these lunar-controlled rhythms and oscillators, little is known about their principle molecular mechanisms, their interplay with rhythms and oscillators of different period lengths, or their modulation in changing environments.
      The marine bristle worm Platynereis dumerilii and the midge Clunio marinus harbor light-entrained circadian, as well as a monthly (circalunar) clocks and also exhibit seasonal behaviors. Our work in Platynereis suggests that the circalunar clock persists even when circadian clock oscillations are disrupted.
      In order to study the molecular and cellular nature of the circalunar clock, as well as its interactions with other timing, Platynereis and Clunio can be used for complementary experimental approaches. For Platynereis techniques, including transgenesis, inducible cell ablations, as well as TALEN/Crispr-Cas-mediated genome engineering provide us with first insights into the genes required for solar vs. lunar light detection.
      Linked to our general interest in photoreceptors, we also work on teleost fishes and uncovered the presence of functional opsin photoreceptors in inter- and motorneurons of medaka and zebrafish. We propose that they might function as nature’s own optogenetics.

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  • Structural and Computational Biology