Decorating RNA
for a purpose

Chemical modifications of RNAs allow the dynamic adaptation of organisms to respond to developmental or environmental changes.

funded by FWF — Der Wissenschaftsfonts


At SFB (F80), RNA-DECO 12 research groups in Austria comprising of biochemists, biologists and bioinformaticians jointly aim at understanding the impact of chemical modifications on:

Structure & Function of specific RNAs using different models.

RNA modifications affect


Scientific Advisory Board


October 02 2020

1st Annual SFB RNA DECO Retreat

The 1st SFB RNA DECO annual retreat took place at Schlosshotel Mondsee in Salzburg on the 7th & 8th of September providing an overview of current research in the field of RNA especially chemical modifications of RNA.
20200908 115610

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July 10 2020

FWF establishes new specialist research area for RNA modifications

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is establishing a new specialist research area called RNA-DECO. Over the next four years, total funding of over €4 million will be provided to fund a total of 12 research groups, who will study the chemical modification of ribonucleic acid (RNA). Five of these research groups (Walter Rossmanith, Matthias Schäfer, Elisa Vilardo, Javier Martinez, Michael Jantsch) are based at MedUni Vienna. Overall project leader is Michael Jantsch, Head of MedUni Vienna’s Centre for Anatomy and Cell Biology.

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July 07 2020

Sabrina Summer defended her Ph.D. thesis successfully!

Sabrina Summer from Walter Rossmanith’s lab successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on “YBEY is an essential biogenesis factor for mitochondrial ribosomes”.

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Synthesis of 4-thiouridines with prodrug functionalization for RNA metabolic labeling

Sarah Moreno, Melanie Brunner, Isabel Delazer, Dietmar Rieder, Alexandra Lusser and Ronald Micura

RSC Chem. Biol. (2022) [accepted]

Structural basis for the context-specific action of the classic peptidyl transferase inhibitor chloramphenicol

Egor A. Syroegin, Laurin Flemmich, Dorota Klepacki, Nora Vazquez-Laslop, Ronald Micura and Yury S. Polikanov

Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 29, 152–161 (2022)

Insights into xanthine riboswitch structure and metal ion-mediated ligand recognition

Xiaochen Xu, Michaela Egger, Hao Chen, Karolina Bartosik, Ronald Micura and Aiming Ren

Nucleic Acids Research 49, 12, 7139–7153 (2021)

Open Positions

Various Open Positions • open since February 14 2022

Open positions to study the Epitranscriptome

For contact details and more information regarding the individual groups please see the attached file and the links therein.

All classes of RNAs are heavily decorated by chemical modifications. These chemical modifications, also referred to as Epitranscriptomic marks affect the fate and function of RNAs, often in response to external stimuli. At RNA DECO an interdisciplinary team of 13 RNA researchers from Vienna and Innsbruck jointly study the regulation and impact of epitranscriptomic marks using various technical and biological models. We look for motivated individuals with a strong background in biochemistry, cell biology or bioinformatics to fill open positions.
Open positions to study the Epitranscriptome

PhD Position • open since January 20 2022

PhD position in RNA and chromatin biology at the Medical University of Innsbruck

Medical University of Innsbruck
Institute of Molecular Biology
Dr. Alexandra Lusser
Group Lusser

A PhD position is available in the lab of Dr. Alexandra Lusser at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria. The laboratory studies gene regulatory mechanisms involving epigenetics and epitranscriptomics.

We are seeking highly motivated PhD students with interest in the following research areas:
• Understanding the biological and mechanistic implications of RNA cytosine modification
• Study of the functions of chromatin remodeler CHD1 in Drosophila health- and lifespan
• Study the posttranscriptional regulation of centromere-specific histone variant Cenp-A.

The successful candidate will have a background in molecular and/or cellular biology. Expertise in bioinformatics (analysis of NGS data) is a plus. We seek a highly motivated scientist with a strong interest in RNA and/or chromatin biology and the ability to work independently as well as in a team. The group is part of the Special Research Program RNA-DECO.

The position is available immediately for 4 years.

The Medical University is located in Innsbruck in the heart of the alps. The city offers ample possibilities for outdoor activities, such as skiing, hiking or biking. Being home to two large universities, social life in the city is strongly shaped by students.

To apply: Please e-mail a CV, a letter of motivation and names and contact information for 2-3 references to: Dr. Alexandra Lusser, Email: alexandra.lusser@i-med.ac.at

Master Thesis • open since January 20 2022

Master Thesis Position in RNA Biology & Epigenetics

Medical University of Vienna
Centre for Anatomy and Cell Biology
Dr. Matthias R. Schaefer
Associate Professor
Schwarzspanierstr. 17, A-1090 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-40160-37702
Group Schaefer

Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are indispensable components of the protein translation machinery. More than 100 post-transcriptional modifications have been described in tRNAs and their presence affect tRNA maturation, structure and function. Importantly, tRNAs play also additional biological roles. For instance, stress-induced tRNA fragmentation is an evolutionary conserved phenomenon resulting in the production of tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) [1]. While tsRNAs have been implicated in a wide range of biological processes, it is currently unclear how their biogenesis is controlled at the molecular level, especially whether or not RNA modifications are involved in the process [2].
Recent experiments in our laboratory uncovered enzymatic activities, which can unwind stress-induced tRNA duplexes thereby producing individual tsRNAs. However, such tsRNAs are asymmetrically degraded by unknown activities that are contained in cellular protein extracts. This M.Sc. project aims at identifying specific tsRNA-degrading activities through a combination of systematic RNA interference (RNAi) in tissue culture and biochemical in vitro experimentation including tRNA fragmentation and RNA helicase assays.
The applicant needs basic molecular biology and tissue culture skills to be considered for this position. The position will be paid with 440 €/month for the duration of initially 9 months to up to one year.

Starting date: February 2022.

1. Thompson DM, Parker R. Stressing out over tRNA cleavage. Cell. 2009;138: 215–219. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2009.07.001
2. Lyons SM, Fay MM, Ivanov P. The role of RNA modifications in the regulation of tRNA cleavage. FEBS Lett. 2018. doi:10.1002/1873-3468.13205