Major Research Interests

Fruiting-body development in filamentous ascomycetes

Fruiting-body development in filamentous ascomycetes is a complex cellular differentiation process that requires special environmental conditions and is controlled by many developmentally regulated genes. We are interested in the genes regulating this development process. We use the homothallic (self-fertile) ascomycete Sordaria macrospora as a model organism. Numerous mutants which are blocked at various stages of fruiting-body development have been generated and molecular genetic procedures have been applied to isolate genes involved in fruiting-body development. In addition to mutants generated by chemical mutagenesis, several mutants affecting fruiting-body development were produced by knock-out of mating-type genes, pheromone and receptor genes, as well as genes involved in autophagy and bicarbonate metabolism.

Fungal inteins

An intein is a self-catalytic protein-intervening sequence that catalyses its precise excision from a host protein and the ligation of its flanking sequences, termed N- and C-exteins, to produce the mature spliced product. Protein splicing is a posttranslational event that releases an internal intein sequence from a protein precursor. Projects in the lab aim to analyse the splicing activity of inteins detected in the prp8 gene of fungi. Because of their compactness and high splicing activity inside foreign proteins, fungal PRP8 inteins may be used for the development of new intein-mediated protein-engineering applications such as protein purification, addition of fluorescent biosensors and expression of cytotoxic proteins.