The participating partners of our network have a common interest in understanding the molecular machineries involved in the maintenance, integrity and faithful transmission of genetic information. These cellular processes involve enzymes and multi‐functional protein, protein‐DNA or protein‐RNA complexes, which all have in common to act on nucleic acids. This has been the central founding idea of our research network entitled “Enzymes and multienzyme complexes acting on nucleic acids”. Based on our concept, common identity among the members of the network has developed in the last period.
The scientific goals of the research programme can be described as follows:
• Understanding how natural processes of nucleic acid manipulation (either DNA, chromatin or RNA) are implemented and regulated on a global scale (genome‐ and transcriptome‐wide), and how such processes and pathways are integrated into the cellular context. Here, high‐throughput techniques (ChIP‐Chip or ChIP‐Seq, RNA (cDNA) deep sequencing) as well as bioinformatic screens will gain weight in the second funding period.
• Understanding the mechanistic and molecular principles of (i) DNA‐protein, RNA‐protein, proteinprotein and RNA‐RNA interactions, and (ii) of larger assemblies involving multiple of the aforementioned interaction types. A focus will be on comprehending conformational transitions required to couple recognition and catalysis. Some specific interactions (e.g. DNA‐protein) have been dissected to an extent that their application to therapeutic interventions is beginning to come into reach.
For the second period, a „double tripartite“ structure of the network has become evident: the first classification is based on the cellular targets and encompasses (i→A) chromatin, (ii→B) DNA and (iii→C) RNA; the RNA section has been expanded to include the emerging field of non‐coding RNAs (ncRNAs). The second classification is based on methodology and consists of (a) an expanded bioinformatic section, (b) projects applying global genome/transcriptome‐wide experimental approaches, and (c) the broad spectrum of classical methodologies to study chromatin/DNA‐ or RNA-associated processes. Based on the methodological grouping, the additional benefit deriving from cooperation is particularly obvious, since the groups applying genome/transcriptome‐wide experimental approaches depend on cooperation with the bioinformaticians for data analysis. On the other hand, in silico predictions need to be examined by experimental approaches. Thus, the bioinformaticians need to be able to fall back on a large scope of experimental techniques, approaches and model systems represented within the network. Finally, we plan to further intensify the interdigitation between groups of the network, such that research projects of individual groups are planned from the beginning to include cooperation modules with expert groups in the network in order to optimize the benefits deriving from synergisms.