About Our Research

The Haase group investigates the ongoing struggle between mobile genetic elements and their host genome by exploring how PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are generated and utilized to specifically silence transposons. Due to the inherent capacity of transposons to mobilize, amplify and insert into new genomic locations, they have colonized around half of our genome. Their activity poses a threat to genome integrity and therefore needs to be controlled. In germ cells, piRNAs and their PIWI protein partners establish transposon silencing, thereby securing species survival. Although recent progress has uncovered the fundamental framework of piRNA-mediated transposon control, the molecular mechanisms that guarantee the pathway's specificity and effectiveness remain largely unknown. Our present research projects take an integrative approach, utilizing biochemistry, genetics, and genomics, to concentrate on three distinct aspects of piRNA biology:

  1. Identify mechanisms that designate transcripts for processing into piRNAs.
  2. Determine rules that govern robustness and adaptability of piRNA-mediated transposon control.
  3. Establish a robust system to study human piRNA biology and its potential impact on genome stability in disease.

Research Images

Last Reviewed April 2023