Helge Grosshans

Group News

Jul 21, 2020
A developmental clock with a checkpoint function
Apr 5, 2020
The circuitous path to adulthood
Aug 5, 2019
Unlocking the secrets of an important regulator of human development
Mar 26, 2019
Über die Pubertät weiss man jetzt mehr – dank einem winzigen Wurm
Mar 25, 2019
A key player in the maturation of sexual organs
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Helge Grosshans

Biological clocks and timers in development

The development of an animal requires proper temporal synchronization of diverse events, facilitated by developmental clocks. How such clocks function is only beginning to emerge. What are their properties? What are the components that make them run, and how are they wired? To solve these questions, we investigate developmental timing in the roundworm C. elegans, where we can exploit our recent discovery that thousands of genes oscillate in expression during larval development. Such extensive and robust molecular clock output, combined with powerful tools for genetic manipulation and screening, makes C. elegans uniquely suited for dissecting the underlying clock mechanism. We combine high-throughput single animal-based methods including quantitative time-lapse imaging with genomics, genetic and computational approaches to record and alter oscillations and developmental timing. Thus, we aim to establish a mechanistic and quantitative model of the clock.

Although oscillator-based developmental clocks are crucial to control execution of repetitive events such as the formation of vertebrae in mammals, distinct mechanisms time linear progression. For instance, transition from juvenile (larval) to adult fates in C. elegans relies on a regulatory cascade, where an RNA-binding protein, LIN28, represses a miRNA, let-7, which in turn represses another RNA-binding protein, LIN41/TRIM71. The functions of these factors appear conserved in mammals where they regulate stem cell fates and, possibly, the onset of puberty. Working with C. elegans and mammalian cells, we aim to obtain a full mechanistic understanding of this pathway and its components to understand how control of 'linear time' is achieved and integrated with clock-controlled processes.

Helge Grosshans

This is a list of selected publications from this group. For a full list of publications, please visit our Publications page and search by group name.

Aeschimann, F., Neagu, A., Rausch, M., and Grosshans, H. (2019) A single let-7 target to coordinate transition to adulthood

Life Science Alliance 2, e201900335

Pereira, L., Aeschimann, F., Wang, C., Lawson, H., Serrano-Saiz, E., Portman, D.S., Grosshans, H., Hobert, O. (2019) Timing mechanism of sexually dimorphic nervous system differentiation

eLIFE 8: e42078.

Kumari, P.*, Aeschimann, F.*, Gaidatzis, D.*, Keusch, J.J.*, Ghosh, P., Neagu, A., Pachulska-Wieczorek, K., Bujnicki, J.M., Gut, H., Grosshans, H., Ciosk, R. (2018) Evolutionary plasticity of the NHL domain underlies distinct solutions to RNA recognition

Nat. Commun. 9: 1549
* Equal contribution

Brancati, G., and Grosshans, H. (2018) An interplay of miRNA abundance and target site architecture determines miRNA activity and specificity

Nucleic Acids Res. 46: 3259-3269

Miki TS, Carl SH, Grosshans H (2017) Two distinct transcription termination modes dictated by promoters

Genes Dev. 31: 1870-1879.

Aeschimann F, Kumari P, Bartake H, Gaidatzis D, Xu L, Ciosk R, Grosshans H (2017) LIN41 post-transcriptionally silences mRNAs by two distinct and position-dependent mechanisms

Mol Cell 65:476-489.

Richter H, Katic I, Gut H, Grosshans H (2016) Structural basis and function of XRN2 binding by XTB domains

Nat Struct Mol Biol 23:164-71

de la Mata M, Gaidatzis D, Vitanescu M, Stadler MB, Wentzel C, Scheiffele P, Filipowicz W, Grosshans H (2015) Potent degradation of neuronal miRNAs induced by highly complementary targets

EMBO Rep 16:500-11

Ecsedi M, Rausch M Grosshans H (2015) The let-7 microRNA directs vulval development through a single target

Dev Cell 32:335-44

Hendriks GJ, Gaidatzis D, Aeschimann F, Grosshans H (2014) Extensive oscillatory gene expression during C. elegans larval development

Mol Cell 53:380-92.

Katic I, Grosshans H (2013) Targeted heritable mutation and gene conversion by Cas9-CRISPR in Caenorhabditis elegans

Genetics 195:1173-6

Chatterjee S, Fasler M, Büssing I, Grosshans H (2011) Target-mediated protection of endogenous microRNAs in C. elegans

Dev Cell 20:388-396

Büssing I, Yang J-S, Lai EC, Grosshans H (2010) The nuclear export receptor XPO-1 supports primary miRNA processing in C. elegans and Drosophila.

EMBO J 29:1830-1839

Chatterjee S, Grosshans H (2009) Active turnover modulates mature microRNA activity in C. elegans

Nature 461:546-549

Ding XC, Grosshans H (2009) Repression of C. elegans microRNA targets at the initiation level of translation requires GW182 proteins

EMBO J 28:213-222

Full list of publications
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Group leader

PhD students

Postdoctoral fellows

Technical/Research associates

Visiting scientists


PhD students

Milou Meeuse (2015-2020)
Giovanna Brancati (2013-2018)
Florian Aeschimann (2011-2016)
Gert-Jan Hendriks (2012-2016)
Hannes Richter (2010-2015)
Hrishikesh Bartake (2010-2015)
Magdalene Rausch (2009-2014)
Stefan Rueegger (2009-2014)
Matyas Ecsedi (2009-2013)
Benjamin Hurschler (2006-2011)
Xavier Ding (2005-2009)
Almuth Muellner (2006-2008)

Postdoctoral fellows

Thomas Welte (2017-2019)
Benjamin Towbin (2016-2019)
Jun Liu (2015-2019)
Giovanna Brancati (2018)
Florian Aeschimann (2017-2018)
Takashi Miki (2011-2017)
Gert-Jan Hendriks (2016)
Manuel De la Mata (2012-2015)
Magdalene Rausch (2014-2015)
Stefan Rueegger (2014)
Nicolas Antih (2010-2013)
Saibal Chatterjee (2007-2012)
Ingo Buessing (2005-2011)

Technical/Research associates

Monika Fasler (2005-2015)
Mirela Vitanescu (2010-2014)


Andrea Pedroni (2019)
Carolin Warnecke (2019)
Max Golubowski (2016-2017)
Chiara Azzi (2016)
Nicole Pina (2015)
Yannick Hauser (2013-2015)
Simon Muehl (2014)
Melanie Hunkeler (2009-2011)
Lysie Champion (2007-2009)
Keovilay Chanthavinout (2006)


PhD, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Dipl-Biotechnol, University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany

Positions held

Senior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
Junior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University, New Haven, USA


European Research Council (ERC) Starting Independent Researcher Award
Keystone Symposium Scholarship
Human Frontier Science Program, Postdoctoral Fellowship
Theresa Seessel Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University
Schering Forschungsgesellschaft, Postdoctoral Fellowship (gratefully declined)
EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship (gratefully declined)