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Comparisons across animal groups suggests that stem-cell based regeneration – including regeneration of the central nervous system – is likely an ancestral feature, but has been secondarily lost in mammals and other taxa. Annelid worms have unique value for studying this process, as they are known to modulate regenerative capacity by virtue of brain-derived endocrine factors. Moreover, these brain-derived factors orchestrate various other developmental processes – ranging from bristle shapes to the trigger of reproductive maturation, and even the timing of death. Research into individual factors and their function therefore provides unique experimental and mechanistic access to fascinating and fundamental aspects of biology.
Our group combines molecular profiling (RNAseq, proteomics), functional experimentation (knock-outs, transgenics), multimodal imaging, cellular profiling (scRNAseq approaches), physiological experiments, and behavioral analyses to advance research into the molecular orchestration of regeneration, reproduction and metamorphosis. Most of our work focuses on the marine bristleworm Platynereis dumerilii that we have helped to push as an experimental system, but we also follow comparative approaches to basal invertebrates (like sponges) and vertebrates. Our efforts in exploring the bristleworm as a unique system for stem cell biology are embedded in a larger Vienna-wide effort to address the molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation and regeneration, including other teams at the Perutz Labs, the Vienna BioCenter and the wider Vienna area.
Florian studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in Heidelberg. After work on Polycomb Repressive Complexes (Boston) and vertebrate brain patterning (MPI-CBG, Dresden), Florian helped to develop the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii as a molecular model (EMBL, Heidelberg). At MFPL, with the help of an ERC starting grant, Florian pioneered work on hormones and stem cells in this unique model.
Bristleworms reproduce by suicide reproduction, in which the production of sperm and eggs is invariably coupled to death. It was known for decades that this process is orchestrated by a brain-borne hormone activity promoting a youthful, non-reproductive state. By combining molecular biology, biochemistry and mass spectrometry, we identified the nature of a lipid-like hormone involved in this enigmatic regulation.
A few well-established model species account for a large share of molecular biological discovery. Yet these species only cover a limited spectrum of biological principles. Our lab has contributed to the establishment of knock-out and transgenic technology in the bristleworm Platynereis dumerilii, paving the way for advanced genetic research into unexplored phenomena such as endocrine stem cell regulation, suicide reproduction and biological timing.
Stem cells are central for both the development of organisms and their ability to replace lost tissues. Posterior growth of the bristleworm offers insight into unique principles of stem cell biology, as this organism is naturally able to switch capacities for growth and regeneration on and off. By pushing single cell biology and imaging methods in the bristleworm, we dissect the underlying molecular mechanistic principles.
One of the fascinating aspects of bristleworms is the generation of stereotypical bristles with nanometric precision. As the underlying process exhibits striking similarities to technical 3D printing, we have teamed up with experts from the Vienna University of Technology to determine the cellular mechanisms and mechanical engineering principles employed by nature, and compare these to their technical counterparts.
Discovery of methylfarnesoate as theannelid brain hormone reveals an ancientrole of sesquiterpenoids in reproduction
Sven Schenk, Christian Krauditsch, Peter Frühauf, Christopher Gerner, Florian Raible
TALENs Mediate Efficient and Heritable Mutation of Endogenous Genes in the Marine Annelid Platynereis dumerilii.
Bannister, Stephanie; Antonova, Olga; Polo, Alessandrea; Lohs, Claudia; Hallay, Natalia; Valinciute, Agne; Raible, Florian; Tessmar-Raible, Kristin
Stable transgenesis in the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii sheds new light on photoreceptor evolution.
Backfisch, Benjamin; Veedin Rajan, Vinoth Babu; Fischer, Ruth M; Lohs, Claudia; Arboleda, Enrique; Tessmar-Raible, Kristin; Raible, Florian
Florian Raible is awardee of a "Starting Independent Researcher Grant" from the European Research Council ERC (ERC-StG2010), and holds 2 stand-alone grants from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to explore hormones, stem cells and sensory biology in the bristleworm.
Florian Raible coordinates a FWF Doc.Funds grant (1.700kEUR) that supports a total of nine PhD students working in the area of stem cell biology. This grant brings together a set of laboratories in the University of Vienna, the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) for advancing stem cell biology across various model systems.
The Austrian Academy of Sciences has awarded the lab funds to drive pioneer research at the interface of cell biology and material sciences to explore the sculpting of nanostructures during bristle development.