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Dr. Valérie Hilgers

Field of research

The formation and maintenance of neurons and neural circuits require the coordinated expression of genes at each step of RNA metabolism: from transcription, processing, localized transport and translation, to degradation. To achieve this level of complexity, neurons employ mechanisms that increase RNA regulatory potential: alternative splicing, alternative polyadenylation, and non-coding RNA expression. We are interested in the transcriptional and co-transcriptional mechanisms that lead to the emergence of neuronal RNA signatures. We also study the post-transcriptional regulation of these RNAs in the cytoplasm, and their role in neuronal development and function.
We use Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Our technologies range from functional genetics, behavior studies, and imaging, to RNA biochemistry. We have a special focus on brain transcriptomics, including iCLIP, 3’-seq, RNA-seq, and ultra-long-read sequencing.

Top three publications

1. Carrasco J, Rauer M, Hummel B, Grzejda D, Alfonso-Gonzalez C, Lee Y, Wang Q, Puchalska M, Mittler G, Hilgers V (2020). ELAV and FNE Determine Neuronal Transcript Signatures through EXon-Activated Rescue. Molecular Cell 80, 156-163.

2. Hilgers V (2015). Alternative polyadenylation coupled to transcription initiation: Insights from ELAV-mediated 3’ UTR extension. RNA Biology 12, 918-921 .

3.Oktaba K, Zhang W, Lotz TS, Jun DJ, Lemke SB, Ng SP, Esposito E, Levine M, Hilgers V (2015). ELAV links paused Pol II to alternative polyadenylation in the Drosophila nervous system. Molecular Cell 57, 341-348.57,341-348.polyadenylation in the Drosophila nervous