Research Interests

Initially considered as “junk” DNA, it is now clear that the non-protein coding part of the human genome, which comprises about 98 % of the ~3·109 DNA bases, is extensively transcribed and gives rise to numerous non-coding RNAs. In our group, we are mainly interested in deciphering the role of these RNAs in hematopoiesis and immune function. At the moment, we are focusing on two different types of non-coding RNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs) and long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs).


MiRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that mediate posttranscriptional silencing of a predicted 60% of protein-coding genes in mammals. In our work, we are trying to decipher how microRNAs influence early B lymphocyte development and, if aberrantly expressed, promote cellular transformation.


LincRNAs form a heterogeneous group of long non-coding RNAs transcribed from independent genomic units that do not overlap with any coding genes. With few exceptions, we are far from understanding which of the thousands of lincRNAs expressed in each cell confers a regulatory function, and if so, how their function is mediated on the molecular level.

To unravel the role of individual lincRNAs in hematopoiesis and the immune system, we combine CRISPR/Cas9-mediated loss-of-function with a broad panel of molecular and biochemical approaches.

Recent Publications

A novel mechanism we have called "cluster assistance" describes how suboptimal primary miRNA stem-loops can be processed when paired with another standard miRNA hairpin on the same transcript.


SAFB2 Enables the Processing of Suboptimal Stem-Loop Structures in Clustered Primary miRNA Transcripts.

Hutter K, Lohmüller M, Jukic A, Eichin F, Avci S, Labi V, Szabo TG, Hoser SM, Hüttenhofer A, Villunger A, Herzog S. Mol Cell. 2020 Jun 4;78(5):876-889.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.05.011. PMID: 32502422

Pre-B cells induce miR-15 family members in an IL-7-dependent manner to stop proliferation and induce differentiation into immature B cells.


The miR-15 family reinforces the transition from proliferation to differentiation in pre-B cells.

Lindner SE, Lohmüller M, Kotkamp B, Schuler F, Knust Z, Villunger A, Herzog S. EMBO Rep. 2017 Sep;18(9):1604-1617. doi: 10.15252/embr.201643735. Epub 2017 Jul 13. PMID: 28705801

Team Members

Sebastian Herzog

Project leader

Katharina Hutter

PhD student

Michael Lohmüller

PhD student

Contact Information

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Biocenter Innsbruck (CCB)

Medical University Innsbruck

Division of Developmental Immunology

Innrain 80

6020 Innsbruck


Tel.: +43 (0) 512-9003-70381

FAX: +43 (0) 512-9003-73960