Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Andreas Werner

Reader in Molecular Biology

Background

Professional training and Positions 

Teaching degree: (languages and history), University of Zurich, Switzerland
Journalism: Qualification and membership of the Swiss Association of Journalists
BSc/Masters in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
PhD in Physiology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Venia Legendi (Habilitation), Physiological Chemistry, University of Bochum, Germany

1991-1992                            Research and teaching assistant, University of Zurich, Switzerland
1992-1993                            Research associate, University of Zurich, Switzerland
1992                                     Stratton Fellowship, MDIBL, Maine, USA
1993-2000                            Group leader, Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, Dortmund, Germany
1997                                     Visiting Professor, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, USA
2000-present                       Associate Professor, Newcastle University, UK


Informal Interests

I am a keen tango dancer. My partner, Angela, and I organise Argentinean Tango events and teach in Tynemouth (www.tango-on-tyne.co.uk). The picture shows us dancing in Switzerland in the cold....

Research

The research of my group focuses on two major areas: 
• Gene regulation by natural antisense transcripts
• Epithelial Na/phosphate transport

We are happy to receive applications from prospective PhD students with funding.


Natural antisense transcripts (NATs)

Large proportions of the human genome do not code for proteins and were long considered as junk or ‘the dark matter of the genome’. Recent studies, however, have shown that much of the noncoding regions of the genome are actively transcribed.  The resulting noncoding RNAs have emerged as essential and abundant regulators of eukaryotic gene expression. Interestingly, noncoding RNAs are implicated in cancer, Alzheimer’s and thalassemia.

Our research mainly focuses on a particular family of noncoding RNAs, so-called natural antisense transcripts (NATs). NATs are long regulatory RNAs that are transcribed in the opposite direction of protein-coding transcripts and potentially regulate their expression level. Moreover, NATs are hypothesised to enable the evolution of complex organisms.

Wight M, Werner A. The functions of natural antisense transcripts. Essays Biochem. 2013; 54: 91-101.

 

Inorganic phosphate (Pi)

Inorganic phosphate (Pi) homeostasis is tightly regulated in humans and both un-physiologically high and low levels of Pi have deleterious consequences. The level of Pi is controlled in the kidney and a membrane transport protein, NaPi-IIa, is particularly important. Mutations in the NaPi-IIa protein have been found in patients with kidney stones, for example. We use molecular modelling and functional expression of the protein to find out how the mutations affect Pi transport and cause disease.  

Structural Fold and Binding Sites of the Human Na+-Phosphate Cotransporter NaPi-II.Biophys J. 2014;106: 1268-79


PhD Students:

Hany Zinad

Heba Ali

Ben Allison


Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

Biomedical Sciences Course, first year: Respiratory Physiology, Integrative Physiology, Module Leader
Dental Medicine, first year: Respiratory Physiology, Integrative Physiology
Biomedical Sciences Course, third year: RNA biology and Project supervision


Postgraduate Teaching

PhD, MSci and MRes project supervision


 


Publications