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Prof Jernej Ule
The Francis Crick Institute
1 Midland Road
Prof Jernej Ule profile picture
  • Honorary Professor
  • Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
  • UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

Jernej obtained his BSc in Molecular Biology from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1999, and PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from Rockefeller University, New York, in 2004. After two-year postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University, he started his research group at the Structural Studies department of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in August 2006. In April 2013, his group relocated to the Department of Molecular Neuroscience at the UCL Institute of Neurology.  Since August 2016, the whole group has been seconded to The Francis Crick Institute in London. He likes to review papers, serves on the editorial board of Genome Biology, is an EMBO fellow, and during 2017-2020, has served as a member of the EMBO Course Committee and Wellcome Expert Review Group, Molecular Basis of Cell Function.

Research Summary

Our research focuses on 'regulatory RNPs', which guide the RNA through the various regulatory stages from nucleus to the cytoplasm. To understand how regulatory RNPs work, we develop techniques that integrate biochemistry and computational biology to obtain a comprehensive map of protein-RNA interactions within our cells. We developed the individual-nucleotide resolution UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (iCLIP), and a related method called hiCLIP, which identify protein-RNA and RNA-RNA interactions with nucleotide resolution across the transcriptome. We use these methods in collaboration with the group of Nicholas Luscombe to study how the sequence and structure of RNAs defines the assembly of RNPs, and how the regulatory RNPs in turn guide the life cycle of each RNA.

Genetic studies have identified mutations that disrupt the normal function of RNPs, many of which cause neurologic diseases, particularly amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We study this disease in collaboration with the group of Rickie Patani by using induced pluripotent stem cells with specific genetic mutations, and differentiating them into motor neurons. We wish to understand how these mutations affect the assembly of protein-RNA complexes, thereby initiating the molecular cascade leading to disease. We study the following questions:

1) How do the RNA-RNA, protein-RNA and protein-protein interactions act together to define the assembly and function of regulatory RNPs?

2) How do RNPs guide the differentiation and functions of neurons or glial cells during brain development, aging or neurodegenerative diseases?

3) How do transposable elements and other non-canonical regulatory sites affect RNP assembly, and thereby contribute to the evolutionary emergence of new tissue-specific exons and regulatory codes?

4) How do mutations cause disease by disrupting the function of RNPs or RNA regulatory elements, and what treatments could ameliorate this?

Academic Background
2004   Doctor of Philosophy The Rockefeller University
1999   Bachelor of Science Univerza v Ljubljani
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