RNA and Autophagy

Group leader: Lisa Frankel

In the RNA and Autophagy group, we aim to understand fundamental biological mechanisms in mammalian cells and investigate how these become perturbed in the development of cancer.

We focus on autophagy, an essential cellular degradation process, which promotes survival during conditions of stress and acts as a safe keeper of cellular homeostasis. We are especially interested in the functional interplay between RNA, translation and autophagy and the biological importance of this cross-regulation. 

We are an international and collaborative team with a strong drive to do excellent basic research. Technically, we apply a broad portfolio of biochemistry techniques combined with confocal, electron and high-throughput microscopy, RNA sequencing and proteomics-based studies. We collaborate both locally and broadly across the globe with several group specialized in areas complementary to our own. We have core expertise in the area of high-throughput screening, which has led to the discovery of a number of novel autophagy regulators, including non-coding RNAs and RNA-binding proteins, which regulate autophagy through post-transcriptional or translational control. We also study the capacity of autophagy to degrade RNA and related complexes.

Since the role of autophagy in cancer is highly complex and not yet well understood, a key aim of our research is to improve our molecular understanding of the autophagy pathway in order to open up new avenues for controlling the autophagic response in cancer cells. Ultimately, we hope that our molecular elucidations will help to guide further research on the role of autophagy in cancer and its exploitation in the clinic.

RNA and Autophagy - test

Selected publications:

Abildgaard MH, Brynjólfsdóttir SH, Frankel LB: The Autophagy-RNA Interplay: Degradation and Beyond. Trends in Biochemical Sciences 2020;45(10):845-857

Tiessen I, Abildgaard MH, Lubas M, Gylling HM, Steinhauer C, Pietras EJ, Diederichs S, Frankel LB, Lund AH: A high-throughput screen identifies the long non-coding RNA DRAIC as a regulator of autophagy. Oncogene 2019;38(26):5127-5141

Lubas M, Harder LM, Kumsta C, Tiessen I, Hansen M, Andersen JS, Lund AH, Frankel LB: eIF5A is required for autophagy by mediating ATG3 translation. EMBO Rep 2018;19(6):e46072

Frankel LB, Di Malta C, Wen J, Eskelinen EL, Ballabio A, Lund AH: A non-conserved miRNA regulates lysosomal function and impacts on a human lysosomal storage disorder. Nat Commun 2014;5:5840

Frankel LB, Wen J, Lees M, Hoyer-Hansen M, Farkas T, Krogh A, Jaattela M, Lund AH: microRNA-101 is a potent inhibitor of autophagy. EMBO J 2011;30(22):4628-4641


Group leader Lisa Frankel
Research profile

RNA and Autophagy
Staff Members

Key Funding

The Lundbeck Foundation: LF fellow

The Novo Nordisk Foundation

Knæk Cancer - Talented Young Researcher