Genetic and molecular dissection of RNA-induced heterochromatin

The major focus of my lab is gene regulation by small RNAs. Small RNAs can have relatively minor effects on translation (in the case of miRNAs) to full-blown shutdown of loci at the transcriptional level (piRNAs). We use transgenics, genetic screens and biochemical and structural approaches to unravel the molecular pathways that are steered by small RNA guides in embryonic and germ cell development.

We are currently working to understand how piRNA responses can be initiated de novo and how and when a transient small RNA-mediated response can be transformed into a stably inherited response. In addition, we will start to work on understanding how small RNA pathways connect to other aspects of the cell's gene-regulatory programmes, including those active during germ cell specification and differentiation.

Research website

Positions held

2015 - 2017: Executive Director, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
Since 2012: Scientific Director, IMB, Mainz
                     Professor, Faculty of Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
2010 - 2013: Professor of Epigenetics in Development, University of Utrecht
2005 - 2012: Group Leader, Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht
2000 - 2004: Postdoctoral Researcher, Hubrecht Laboratory, Utrecht
2000: Postdoctoral Researcher, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories


2000: PhD in Molecular Biology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
1994: Masters in Chemistry, University of Leiden


Selected publications publications by René Ketting

Almeida MV, de Jesus Domingues AM and Ketting RF (2019) Maternal and zygotic gene regulatory effects of endogenous RNAi pathwaysPLOS Genet, 15:e1007784 Link

Almeida MV, Dietz S, Redl S, Karaulanov E, Hildebrandt A, Renz C, Ulrich HD, König J, Butter F and Ketting RF (2018) GTSF‐1 is required for formation of a functional RNA‐dependent RNA Polymerase complex in Caenorhabditis elegansEMBO J, 37:e99325 Link

Lebedeva S, de Jesus Domingues AM, Butter F and Ketting RF (2017) Characterization of genetic loss-of-function of Fus in zebrafishRNA Biol, 14:29–35 Link

de Albuquerque BFM, Placentino M and Ketting RF (2015) Maternal piRNAs are essential for germline development following de novo establishment of endo-siRNAs in Caenorhabditis elegansDev Cell, 34:448–456 Link

Gebert D, Ketting RF, Zischler H and Rosenkranz D (2015) piRNAs from pig testis provide evidence for a conserved role of the piwi pathway in post-transcriptional gene regulation in mammalsPLOS One, 10:e0124860 Link