Dr. Katharina Höfer is leading the independent Max Planck Research Group Bacterial Epitranscriptomics at the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, where she explores the biological role of RNA modifications in bacteria. In particular, her work focuses NAD-capped RNAs in bacteria, which she discovered and started to characterize during her PhD at Heidelberg University.

She studied Life Science and Molecular Biotechnology at the Universities of Hannover and Heidelberg. In 2017 she received her PhD at Heidelberg University. Since 2017 she became a Carl-Zeiss fellow at Heidelberg University, which allowed her to study the biological significance of RNA modifications. Moreover, Katharina is a member of the “Forschungsbörse” to bring science into schools.

For her work on NAD-capped RNAs, she has been awarded the PhD prize of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Ruprecht Karls Prize and the Science prize of the Ingrid-zu Solms Stiftung.

Education and positions held

  • Since 2020 Independent Max Planck Research Group Leader “Bacterial Epitranscriptomics”, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.
  • 2020 Junior Group Leader “Bacterial Epitranscriptomics”, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany
  • 2017 – 2020 Postdoctoral Fellow with A. Jäschke, Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • 2017 Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.; summa cum laude)
  • 2012-2017 Predoctoral Fellow with A. Jäschke, Heidelberg University.
  • 2011 Master of Science in Molecular Biotechnology.
  • 2009-2011 Student of Molecular Biotechnology at the Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • 2009 Research Student at the German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany.
  • 2008 Bachelor of Science in Life Science.
  • 2005-2008 Student of Life Science at the University of Hannover, Germany.
  • 2005 „Abitur“ at the “Friedrich-Schiller Gymnasium”, Bleicherode, Germany.

Research Summary

RNA`s simple chemical composition, being generally built from only four different nucleotides, stands in stark contrast to its highly complex functionality. More than 160 chemical modifications are known that alter the function or stability of RNA molecules to date. Focusing primarily on the model organism Escherichia coli, the Höfer lab studies the epitranscriptomic mechanisms of gene regulation based on NAD-capped RNAs in bacteria. We combine cell biological, biochemical, structural, chemical, and bioinformatic approaches to identify novel and essential connections between redox biology, gene expression, and regulation.

Key publications

  • Abele F, Höfer K*, Bernhard P, Grawenhoff J, Seidel M, Krause A, Kopf S, Schröter M, Jäschke A. A Novel NAD-RNA Decapping Pathway Discovered by Synthetic Light-Up NAD RNAs. Biomolecules. 2020 Mar 28;10(4):513. (*shared first author)
  • Winz ML, Cahová H, Nübel G, Frindert J, Höfer K, Jäschke A. Capture and sequencing of NAD-capped RNA sequences with NAD captureSeq. Nat Protoc. 2017 Jan;12(1):122-149.
  • Höfer K*, Li S*, Abele F, Frindert J, Schlotthauer J, Grawenhoff J, Du J, Patel DJ, Jäschke A. Structure and function of the bacterial decapping enzyme NudC. Nat Chem Biol. 2016 Sep;12(9):730-4. (*shared first author)
  • Cahová H*, Winz ML*, Höfer K*, Nübel G, Jäschke A. NAD captureSeq indicates NAD as a bacterial cap for a subset of regulatory RNAs. Nature. 2015 Mar 19;519(7543):374-7. (*shared first author)
  • Höfer K, Langejürgen LV, Jäschke A. Universal aptamer-based real-time monitoring of enzymatic RNA synthesis. J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Sep 18;135(37):13692-4.