Dr. Felix Horns

Harnessing RNA export to monitor and manipulate living cells

Dear all,
on Wednesday, 19th of June at 1:30pm, Dr. Felix Horns from California Institute of Technology will hold a talk at HZI, Braunschweig.

Title: “Harnessing RNA export to monitor and manipulate living cells”

Host: Prof. Thomas Pietschmann, TWINCORE

Where: HZI Forum room X0.13a for Campus participants and via Zoom only for external participants:

Meeting-ID: 674 3742 3165
Code: 298166

Brief bio:
Felix Horns is a Chen Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Horns received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Stanford University working with Dr. Stephen Quake. In his graduate research, Horns developed and applied single-cell genomics techniques to reveal how human immune systems diversify and respond to challenges, and how brains are built during development. In his postdoctoral research with Dr. Michael Elowitz at the California Institute of Technology, Horns developed cellular RNA export technology, which enables molecular monitoring of how cells change over time and unlocks new approaches to RNA delivery. His ongoing and future research focuses on integrating synthetic biology and genomics to illuminate cellular dynamics within living animals and to create new therapeutics. His work has been supported by the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, the Chen Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Science Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Understanding the dynamics of cell populations and their states is a longstanding challenge in biology. Although RNA analysis reveals the molecular states of cells, these techniques typically require destruction of the analyzed cells, which prevents measurement of how individual cells change over time. To overcome these challenges, we developed cellular RNA export technology for tracking the dynamics of cell populations and states. We engineered mammalian cells to package and secrete RNA within protective vesicles. We demonstrate how this technology can be used to track the dynamics of cell populations and states by sequencing secreted RNA without disturbing cells. We also show how this technology enables cell-to-cell RNA delivery for manipulating receiver cells, including reprogramming of cell types. Cellular RNA export technology thus provides a wealth of dynamical information about cells and lays a foundation for understanding and controlling the dynamic molecular states of cells.