Austrian Proteomics Platform
Coordinator: Lukas Huber

Besides DNA as cellular carrier of information, proteins are importan cellular tools that are involved in the generation of diseases. It is therefore a great challenge in lifes sciences to decipher besides the genome also the proteome, i.e. the entirety of proteins (gene products) of a particular cell (type) or tissue in a particular state (of development, activity) = function. While the genome is static, the proteome is dynamic, as it constantly changes in response to challenges impinging on the cell. The proteome includes expression profiles of gene products, but also the posttranslational processing events of proteins. These, however, can only be investigated on the proteins themselves. The proteome reflects thus the state of a cell, tissue, organism, normal as well as pathological.

The Austrian Proteomics Platform was founded as a network of 5 Austrian basic scientists, working at the Universities and Medical Universities of Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, the Veterinary University of Vienna and the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) Vienna. These Partners have submitted individual projects, yet exchange among themselves ressources, technologies and experience in order to establish a broad proteinomics platform. The individual researchers focus in particular on those biological as well as technological questions, where  they have already expertise and from which they can expect to achieve internationally a scientific advantage.In the first phase, the following activities are undertaken:

  • Establishing a state-of-tha-art infrastructure for proteomics work
  • Technological development with view to funtional proteomics, i.e. for the elucidation of cellular functions of proteins, such as protein-ligand interaction, postttranslational modifications etc.
  • Development of new protocols and new stationary phases for prottein and peptide separation work
  • Development of Bioinformatics for more thorough data evaluation
  • Education of highly qualified scientists

Non coding RNAs, from identification to functional characterization
Coordinator: Alexander Hüttendorfer

In the field of natural sciences, one of the major breakthroughs in the recent past was the elucidation of the human genome sequence. However, deciphering of the human genome sequence is only the first step; the question of how genes are expressed from a genome and how this expression is controlled will be the challenge for the next decades to come. Very recently, the class of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which are not translated into proteins but function on the level of RNA, has been shown to play a major role in the regulation of gene expression. In particular the so-called "microRNAs" (21 nt long ribonucleic acid molecules) have been found to act as genetic switches.

This application aims to 1) find novel ncRNA molecules in the genomes of model organisms, including humans, which play a role in the regulation of gene expression and 2) decipher the molecular mechanism(s) by which these RNA molecules exert their function(s). The identification of the functions of all these novel ncRNAs will ultimately help to understand how the genetic information stored within a genome is being temporally and spatially translated to result in the generation of an entire organism. In addition, identification of the function of these ncRNA molecules will eventually help to understand and treat certain human diseases.