Eukaryotic organisms make extensive use of posttranscriptional mechanisms to regulate gene expression in the course of development and in response to diverse stresses. In particular alternative precursor mRNA splicing (AS) is a widespread mechanism that increases transcriptome diversity and contributes to critical developmental processes in higher eukaryotes (see graphical depiction below). However, our current understanding of the regulatory processes driving these alterations in gene expression as well as their functional implications is still very limited.
The research group Wachter addresses these open questions by examining the role of AS and regulated mRNA turnover in plant development and stress responses. Using a combination of genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and plant physiology, we identify novel regulatory components and characterize the molecular principles underlying specific control of AS and mRNA turnover. While most of our current research is focused on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, future research will also test the evolutionary conservation and potential agricultural relevance of our findings in other plant species. Our aim is to gain a better understanding of RNA-mediated gene control mechanisms, which are increasingly being recognized to have important implications in both basic and applied research.