Research and Interests
Dr. Maurer is intrigued by the ability of cell to differentially localize and translate mRNAs, leading to distinct distributions of cellular proteins that result in particular domains with specialized functions. His research thus focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying cytoplasmic RNA transport along cytoskeletal elements, especially microtubules. Specifically, Dr. Maurer aims to address fundamental gaps of knowledge in this transport process such as determining the cellular components and mechanisms to bind, protect, and co-ordinate mRNA cytoplasmatic transportation and delivery. Taking into account the pivotal role of mRNA localization in neurons, and the involvement of mRNA transport perturbations in neurodegeneration, characterization of mRNA distribution may open new therapeutic avenues for neurodegenerative diseases.
Expertise and Capabilities
Complementary to in vivo research in the field, Maurer`s laboratory employs a bottom-up strategy to study mRNA transportation. Purified RNAs and proteins are used to assemble RNA transport modules having a controlled number of components in vitro. The properties and function of factors building such RNA transport modules are studied by combining fast simultaneous multi-colour Total Internal Reflection Microscopy (TIRF-M), which enables the observation of very thin, restricted regions in a specimen, and structural studies. Importantly, TIRF can also be used to observe the fluorescence of a single molecule, making it an important tool of biophysics and quantitative biology.
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