Decorating RNA
for a purpose

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


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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Amine-to-Azide Conversion on Native RNA via Metal-Free Diazotransfer Opens New Avenues for RNA Manipulations

Dr. Olga A. Krasheninina Julia Thaler Prof. Dr. Matthias D. Erlacher Prof. Dr. Ronald Micura

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Volume60, Issue13

Zebrafish Ski7 tunes RNA levels during the oocyte-to-embryo transition

Luis Enrique Cabrera-Quio,Alexander Schleiffer,Karl Mechtler,Andrea Pauli

PLoS Genet 17(2): e1009390. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009390

Conformation of sister chromatids in the replicated human genome

Michael Mitter, Catherina Gasser, Zsuzsanna Takacs, Christoph C. H. Langer, Wen Tang, Gregor Jessberger, Charlie T. Beales, Eva Neuner,Stefan L. Ameres, Jan-Michael Peters, Anton Goloborodko, Ronald Micura & Daniel W. Gerlich

Nature volume 586, pages139–144(2020

Open Positions

Master Thesis • open since January 11 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