Dear Microsymposium aficionados,

We were hoping to be able to welcome everybody in Vienna for the 2021 meeting and celebrate with you the 15th anniversary of this event in person. However, the current coronavirus situation still does not allow us to physically meet. Therefore, we decided to continue the conversation in the virtual space and invite you to meet us on April 22nd till 23rd 2021 between 1 to 9 pm Central European Time (CET).

This year’s Microsymposium will differ in more ways than one. We shortened the meeting to two days, decided to skip the poster sessions and focus on short live talks.

All talks will be live followed by a live Q&A session. Please note that talks will not be recorded so make sure to join the talk on time! In addition, each speaker will be available during the networking break (on the day of her or his talk) for further discussion. You will be able to talk to them in small groups and face to face via video chat in the networking space.

Further details will follow closer to the symposium.

As in previous years we highly encourage PhD students and Postdocs to submit their abstract to apply for the PhD workshop or a Postdoc talk. Note that the submission deadline is March 11th.


To stay updated, leave your Email address hereand make sure to follow the official event hashtag #microsymposium2021

If you have any questions please contact the event coordinatorlea.klement(at)

The symposium will be held at CET (Central European Time), make sure you have the correct time! For example you can use this link:

Day 1 - THURSDAY April 22, 2021

13:00     Welcome & introduction

Session 1 - Development 1

Chair: Julius Brennecke

13:15 Victor Ambros, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Modelling in C. elegans ALG-1 of hAgo1 mutations that cause neurodevelopmental disorders in humans: Global disruption microRNA function and downstream gene expression.

13:35 Jeffrey Vedanayagam, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Red queen and the lost boys: The role of RNAi in defending sex chromosome conflict

13:55 Michal Rabani, The Hebrew University Jerusalem

Kill the messenger: dynamic regulation of maternal mRNA degradation in embryos

14:15 break


Session 2 – Localisation

14:30  Chair: Clemens Plaschka

14:35 Simon Bullock, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Cargo-directed regulation of microtubule-based mRNA transport

14:55 Miha Modic, The Francis Crick Institute

Epiblast morphogenesis is controlled by selective mRNA decay triggered by LIN28A relocation

15:15 break



Chair: PHD students

15:30 Katarina Meze, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The 3’-5’ exonuclease Dis3l2 undergoes conformational dynamics during structured RNA degradation

15:45 Mateusz Mendel, University of Geneva

m6A RNA methylation regulates pre-mRNA splicing by blocking 3′ splice site recognition by the splicing factor U2AF35

16:00 Danyan Li, Yale University

Planarian PIWI guides tissue-specific chromatin changes during cell differentiation

16:15 Samantha Ho, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Chk2 and UAP56 control of the ping-pong amplification machinery

16:30 Andrew Behrens, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry

Dynamics of human tRNA repertoires as a function of cell identity

16:45 break


Session 3 - Translation

17:05  Chair: Javier Martinez

17:10 Gunter Meister, University of Regensburg

A novel tRNA modification pathway and its link to pancreatic cancer

17:30 Meetali Singh, Institut Pasteur

Translation and codon usage regulate Argonaute slicer activity to trigger small RNA biogenesis.

17:50 Noam Stern-Ginossar, Weizmann Institute of Science

The translational landscape in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells

18:10 long break


Session 4 - non-coding RNAs

18:55 Chair: Luisa Cochella

19:00 James Walker, John Innes Centre

Nurse cell-derived small RNAs define paternal epigenetic inheritance in Arabidopsis

19:20 Luca Gebert, The Scripps Research Institute

A viral RNA motif that hijacks microRNAs

19:40 Matthias Hentze, EMBL

How A Small RNA Riboregulates Human Autophagy

20:00 Networking

Day 2 - FRIDAY April 23, 2021

Session 5 - Argonautes

12:55 Chair: Stefan Ameres

13:00 Phillip Zamore, UMass Worcester

Adventures with the Argonautes       

13:20 Martina Sauert, Lexogen GmbH

TraPR – Gel-free Isolation of Functional Small RNAs

13:30 Rajani Gudipatti, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research

Protease-mediated processing of Argonaute proteins controls small RNA association

13:50 break


Session 6 – MicroRNAs

14:05 Chair: Sebastian Falk

14:10 Marvin Tanenbaum, Hubrecht Institute

mRNA structural dynamics shape Argonaute-target interactions

14:30 Thomas Duchaine, McGill University

Enjoy the silences: Flexibility, compensation and specialization among miRNA-mediated silencing mechanisms in development

14:50 break



Chair: PHD students

15:05 Riley Galton, California Institute of Technology

A somatic piRNA pathway regulates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of chicken neural crest cells

15:20 Jan Schreier, Institute of Molecular Biology

A novel sperm-specific compartment secures a cytoplasmic Argonaute protein for paternal epigenetic inheritance of small RNA-mediated gene silencing

15:35 Zuzana Loubalová, Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Golden hamster piRNAs are necessary for zygote development and establishment of spermatogonia

15:50 Nimit Jain, Stanford University School of Medicine

Transcription polymerase–catalyzed emergence of novel RNA replicons

16:05 Katrin Leesch, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP)

Storage and function of maternal ribosomes depends on conserved ribosome-associated factors

16:20 break


Session 7 - Small RNAs in Plants

16:40  Chair: Michael Nodine

16:45 Ignacio Rubio-Somoza,Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG)

An arms race at RNA silencing: the role of microRNA targets in plant immunity

17:05 Akihito Fukudome, Indiana University

Structure of RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 2 and its implications for double-stranded RNA synthesis in RNA-directed DNA methylation

17:25 Sara Lopez-Gomollon, University of Cambridge

sRNAs and genomic shock

17:45 long break


Session 8 - Development 2

18:30 Chair: Andrea Pauli

18:35 Olivia Rissland, University of Colorado Denver

Control of RNA Binding Proteins During Early Embryogenesis

18:55 Claire Rougeulle, Epigenetics and Cell Fate centre, CNRS / Université de Paris

It’s not all about RNA: contribution of the noncoding genome to human X chromosome inactivation

19:15 Luisa Cochella, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP)

Roles of miRNAs in cell diversification

19:35 Closing remarks

19:50 Networking



Victor Ambros, UMass Worcester

Simon Bullock, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Luisa Cochella, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology 

Thomas Duchaine, McGill University 

Matthias Hentze, EMBL Heidelberg

Gunter Meister, University of Regensburg

Michal Rabani, The Hebrew University Jerusalem

Olivia Rissland, University of Colorado Denver

Claire Rougeulle, Université Paris Diderot

Ignacio Rubio-Somoza, Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG)

Noam Stern-Ginossar, Weizmann Institute of Science

Marvin Tanenbaum, Hubrecht Institute

Jernej Ule, Francis Crick Institute

Phillip Zamore, UMass Worcester


The Microsymposium is entirely financed by biotech companies, scientific societies, leading journals, the city of Vienna, and the research institutions IMBA, IMP, and GMI. These generous contributions make the Microsymposium a registration-free meeting, which attracts in particular students and postdocs from all over the world.

Abstract deadline: March 11th 2021

Registration deadline: April 12th 2021

Abstract submission
To apply for the PhD workshop or a Postdoc talk, please send your abstract (ideally a WORD document) to: lea.klement(at)
The abstract should include:
Author(s) & Affiliation:
Abstract: (max. 300 words)

By submitting an abstract, you agree to have it published in the abstract booklet, which will be provided to all symposium participants.


The „Microsymposium on Small RNA Biology“ is an international conference that brings together young scientists, junior and senior group leaders, and company representatives from all over the world to present and discuss their latest findings in the exciting field of small RNAs. The Microsymposium was founded in 2005 and has established itself as the major small RNA meeting in Europe. It is organized by the four research institutions IMBAIMPGMI and the Max Perutz Labs as well as by the RNA community of the Vienna BioCenter. 

In all three eukaryotic kingdoms, small regulatory RNAs play a key role in the silencing of gene expression at the post-transcriptional and the transcriptional level. They have central functions in the repression of viruses and transposons and they play essential roles in coordinating organismal development, physiological processes and human diseases, such as cancer.

To strengthen the focus on the new generation of scientists, the Microsymposium invites—besides established leaders in the field— postdocs and PhD students (selected from submitted poster abstracts) as speakers. This allows the up-and-coming scientists to present their projects and results to a highly qualified, engaged and dynamic audience and is a major distinguishing factor from other conferences.


Stefan Ameres (IMBA & Max Perutz Labs)
Julius Brennecke   (IMBA)
Luisa Cochella  (IMP) 
Sebastian Falk (Max Perutz Labs)
Javier Martinez (Max Perutz Labs)
Michael Nodine (GMI)
Andrea Pauli (IMP)
Clemens Plaschka (IMP)

Supported by

Supported by


We would like to thank the following companies who have kindly sponsored our symposium over many years.


  • NEB
  • Lexogen
  • VWR
  • World Courier