August 18 – 23 , 2019, Dagstuhl Seminar 19342

Advances and Challenges in Protein-RNA Recognition, Regulation and Prediction


Rolf Backofen (Universität Freiburg, DE)
Yael Mandel-Gutfreund (Technion – Haifa, IL)
Uwe Ohler (Max-Delbrück-Centrum – Berlin, DE)
Gabriele Varani (University of Washington – Seattle, US)

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Annette Beyer for administrative matters

Andreas Dolzmann for scientific matters


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Recent high throughput experimental technologies have greatly increased our understanding of individual steps in RNA-based gene regulation. We can interrogate gene expression, RNA structure, and RNA-protein interactions in a genome-wide manner, and a few paradigmatic systems have been characterized in detail. We can also read out the effects that RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have on RNA processing, stability, localization, and translation, and we have made progress to determine RNA conformations actually occurring in living cells. However, a quantitative understanding of molecular interactions, and how individual molecular events are integrated into complex intracellular and organism-wide networks of information transfer, remains very limited.

The purpose of this Dagstuhl Seminar is to stimulate the cross-fertilization of ideas between computer scientists and experimentalists, through an open discussion seminar format of approaches that quantitatively tackle the problem of RNA gene regulation and its molecular basis in RNA structure and protein-RNA interaction. In the past couple of years, this field has been greatly affected by the arrival of "single-cell" genomics, i.e., our ability to extract information from many individual cells, thus decomposing averaged observations from bulk data into precise information of events occurring in the single units of life. However, advances have not been limited to technology; we have gained further understanding about additional, previously neglected but important variables such as RNA modifications that may impact structure and interactions, leading to the subfield of "epitranscriptomics". On the computational side, first studies have established the usefulness of deep learning approaches to study gene regulation.

In the seminar, we plan to tackle major challenges in the computational analysis of new experimental data sets in this field. Specifically, we will address these four major topics:

  1. Modeling RNA-based and RBP interaction networks
  2. Computational approaches to extend atomic models of protein-RNA interactions
  3. Novel approaches for designing RNA-binding proteins and RNA scaffolds
  4. Modelling the impact of RBPs on gene expression

The seminar will be designed to foster the exchange of ideas between the experimental and computational biologists and catalyze the development of new and improved technologies. In this way, we hope to merge experimental analysis with novel mathematical and computational techniques, with the ultimate goal of generating a better quantitative understanding of RNA-based biological regulation.

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  Rolf Backofen, Yael Mandel-Gutfreund, Uwe Ohler, and Gabriele Varani

Related Dagstuhl Seminar


  • Bioinformatics
  • Data Structures / Algorithms / Complexity
  • Modelling / Simulation


  • Machine learning
  • Computational biology
  • Genomics
  • Gene regulation
  • RNA


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