30. Sept. 2023

At the end of the summer, CEITEC MU was the traditional host of the RNA Summer School, co-organized by Peter Lukavsky, Dalibor Blažek and Vojtěch Bystrý. The Summer School is very popular with participants, who can meet leading European experts in RNA research and delve into related topics including structural analysis of large macromolecular complexes, bioinformatics and mass spectrometry investigations, RNA modifications, processing, translation and their significance in development and disease.

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) carries genetic information and its fundamental building blocks, the nucleotides, found in the cells of all living organisms, keep all life processes running. It is therefore understandable that RNA is of interest to many life science disciplines. For the fifth time, a vibrant RNA biology programme from different perspectives attracted more than 60 master and doctoral students of biological sciences to Brno, who had the opportunity to personally meet experts in RNA research, listen to their lectures and participate in a practical workshop.

The field of RNA biology is developing rapidly, and cutting-edge technologies allow scientists to use experimental research techniques and share their results with each other and pass on their findings to the next generation of scientists. At the summer school, they could not only participate in an expert workshop by analyst Santhust from EMBL on "Cytoscape for visualizing RNA-seq data via biomolecular networks", but also discuss how to prepare competitive fellowship applications, and learn about how to commercialize scientific ideas (KelAda Pharmachem Ltd.) and about the various challenges in starting a biotech company (DIANA Biotechnologies).

Equally exciting and successful were the expert lectures. CEITEC MU was represented by Dalibor Blažek with his recent Nature paper on "Roles of cyclin-dependent kinases in regulation of gene expression" and Liam Keegan with his presentation on "Biological roles of ADARs".

Dalibor Blažek talked about a central role of the kinase CDK11 in spliceosome assembly and splicing regulation and Liam Keegan's presentation discussed how ADAR1 prevents the aberrant activation of the innate immune sensor PKR by self dsRNA.

Julian König, from the Institute of Molecular Biology in Mainz, was also of great interest to the participants since his presentation focused on the biological role of m6A modification in RNA regulation, a hot topic in RNA biology.

Clemens Plaschka from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna earned the interest from the audience with his introduction to cryo-EM analysis of large RNA-protein assemblies and his presentation of high-resolution structures of different catalytic spliceosome assemblies.

And Petr Svoboda from the Czech Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences took a critical look at the analysis of small endogenous RNA molecules (microRNA) and demonstrated “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of miRNA research making students aware that critical assessment of published work is essential for progress in science.

„The participating speakers were really pleased by the active participation of many students and their good questions throughout this RNA Summer School,” said Peter Lukavsky, research group leader from CEITEC MU. This clearly shows that the young RNA students participating in this year’s RNA Summer School are enthusiastic about great science and the newest results in RNA biology.

This RNA Summer School was organised thanks to the support of the European INTEG-RNA project which ends this year. Since the vast majority of the participants stated that they would definitely recommend this RNA Summer School to others, the organizers will seek alternative funding for the sixth edition of the Brno RNA summer school in September 2024.

More information

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 952541. Disclaimer: This website and included materials reflect only the author’s view and the Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.