Prof. Dr. Albrecht Bindereif


 Circular RNAs in the mammalian system


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of noncoding RNAs, generated by alternative splicing from normal protein-coding genes, with one or several adjacent exons being excised from a pre-mRNA. Functionally, circRNAs are still largely unexplored, except for a miRNA-sponge function in two cases. Other functions, such as protein sponging, antisense activity, or assembly platforms are still hypothetical.

Our group focusses on the structural and functional characterization of circRNAs in the mammalian system, using a variety of cell culture systems as well as primary human thrombocytes (platelets). Technically, we rely on RNA biochemistry, various global approaches (RNA-seq, CLIP-seq, SELEX-seq), in combination with RNA-bioinformatic analyses.

Major aims in our studies are:

(a) to systematically define the sequence and RNA-structural requirements for circRNA formation, and to determine the requirements and specific roles of splicing factors in exon circularization;

(b) to identify and biochemically characterize circRNPs and their protein components; this includes also systematic searching for translationally active circRNAs;

(c) to study circRNA/circRNP export and trafficking, including packaging and cellular release in form of exosomes and microvesicles, with the overall aim to reveal the determinants for these further stages of circRNA biogenesis.

(d) to design and express novel circRNAs, both by cellular systems and by in vitro synthesis, with the aim to develop circRNAs with new functions, such as protein sponge or antisense activities, as a way to modulate gene expression and to develop new strategies for disease interference.



Schneider, T., and Bindereif, A. (2017). CircRNA: Coding or noncoding? Cell Res. 27(6), 724-725.

Schneider, T., Hung, L.H., Schreiner, Starke, S., Eckhof, H., Rossbach, O., Reich, S., Medenbach, J., and Bindereif, A. (2016). CircRNA-protein complexes: IMP3 protein component defines subfamily of circRNPs. Sci. Rep. 6, 31313.

Starke, S., Jost, I., Rossbach, O., Schneider, T., Schreiner, S., Hung, L.-H., Bindereif, A. (2015). Exon circularization requires canonical splice signals. Cell reports 10, 103-111.



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