RNA modifications

Modern Research in the Life Sciences is interdisciplinary by default. The Helm group integrates disciplines from chemistry, biology, physics, bioinformatics, and pharmacy to advance research on nucleic acids, in particular on RNA. The central focus is on RNA modifications of natural or synthetic origin. Insight into how and why nature chemically modifies ribonucleosides guides the design and synthesis of man-made nucleic acids, with applications in fundamental science, biotec, and therapy alike. The Helm group has made significant contributions to two major areas of interest which are RNA modification and delivery of modified RNA. We have been able to do so mainly because we maintain a balanced spectrum of in-house competences and cooperations that includes synthetic organic chemistry, single molecule biophysics, sophisticated RNA biochemistry, cutting edge RNA analytics, and cell culture.

The current research focus is on the so-called “epitranscriptome”, i.e. the information contained in transcribed, process and modified RNAs of a cell. Deciphering the various aspects of the epitranscriptome, in particular of numerous RNA modifications is a driving force in technology development of the group. Applications with pharmaceutical and therapeutic perspectives include analytics of RNA vaccines and recognition of RNA by the innate immune system.

Positions held

Since 2009: Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry (W2), University of Mainz
2002 - 2009: Independent Head of research group, IPMB Heidelberg University
2001 - 2002: Postdoc at the Free University of Berlin
1999 - 2001: Postdoc, California Institute of Technology


1999: PhD ULP Strasbourg, France
1995: Diploma in Chemistry

Selected publications by Mark Helm

Lence T, Akhtar J, Bayer M, Schmid K, Spindler L, Ho CH, Kreim N, Andrade-Navarro MA, Poeck B,Helm M and Roignant JY (2016) m6A modulates neuronal functions and sex determination in Drosophila. Nature, 540:242-247 Link

Hauenschild R, Tserovski L, Schmid K, Thüring K, Winz ML, Sharma S, Entian KD, Wacheul L, Lafontaine DL, Anderson J, Alfonzo J, Hildebrandt A, Jäschke A, Motorin Y and Helm M (2015) The reverse transcription signature of N-1-methyladenosine in RNA-Seq is sequence dependent. Nucleic Acids Res, 43:9950-64 Link

Kellner S, Neumann J, Rosenkranz D, Lebedeva S, Ketting RF, Zischler H, Schneider D and Helm M (2014) Profiling of RNA modifications by multiplexed stable isotope labelling. Chemical Commun, 50:3516-8 Link

Gehrig S, Eberle ME, Botschen F, Rimbach K, Eberle F, Eigenbrod T, Kaiser S, Holmes WM, Erdmann VA, Sprinzl M, Bec G, Keith G, Dalpke AH and Helm M (2012) Identification of modifications in microbial, native tRNA that suppress immunostimulatory activity. J Exp Med, 209:225-233 Link

Voigts-Hoffmann F, Hengesbach M, Kobitski AY, van Aerschot A, Herdewijn P, Nienhaus GU and Helm M (2007) A methyl group controls conformational equilibrium in human mitochondrial tRNALys. J Am Chem Soc, 129:13382-13383 Link