Torben Heick Jensen



The regulation and fidelity of gene expression is of paramount importance for the maintenance and differentiation of all living organisms. Our laboratory studies the production and quality control of RNA in eukaryotic cells (S. cerevisiae, mouse and human) and its contribution to gene expression regulation. A main focus of the laboratory is to understand the molecular principles dictating the sorting of newly transcribed RNA into a productive pathway involving its packaging with protein and cellular transport vs. a destructive pathway leading to RNA turnover. We believe that a thorough understanding of these relationships will also position us to better understand any putative function of the pervasive transcription of eukaryotic genomes.

Laboratory efforts can roughly be divided into four research topics:

· Delineation of nuclear human RNA decay pathways and their regulatory capacities

· Distinguishing non-functional from functional non-coding RNA transcription events

· Shaping of human transcriptomes by nonsense-mediated decay (NMD)

· Relationships between RNA synthesis and decay in S. cerevisiae

From 2005-2015 Torben Heick Jensen was heading the Danish National Research Foundation-funded ‘Centre for mRNP Biogenesis and Metabolism’. These, and other, efforts are now continued via funding from the European Research Council (ERC), the Danish Council for Independent Research, the Novo Nordisk foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation and the Danish Cancer Society. The THJ laboratory is also part of the iSEQ Centre for Integrative Sequencing (


04.01.2018 | Udgivelse, Forskning

Researchers reveal dual role for human RNA decay factor

Researchers at Aarhus University have characterized the human RNA decay factor ZC3H18 and discovered its unanticipated role in the production of protein-coding RNA. The new study, published this week in Cell Reports, therefore reveals a double-faced activity of ZC3H18 in nuclear RNA fate decisions.


25.04.2017 | Medarbejdernyhed

New members and one farewell

We are welcoming PhD student Dennis Johnsen and PostDocs Ross Cordiner, Jerome Rouviere, Guifen Wui and Katsutoshi Imamura who joined recently to the lab. But we also had to say goodbye to Kinga who left for a PostDoc in the UK.

Model for RNA fate decisions: Early during its production by PolII, the CBC-bound cap of the emerging RNA is contacted by ‘productive’ (PHAX) and ‘destructive’ (ZC3H18) factors. These proteins form mutually exclusive complexes with the CBC until a ‘decision point’ (e.g. a terminator) is encountered by PolII, after which RNA fate is determined by stable interaction with either PHAX or ZC3H18.

21.03.2017 | Forskning

Sorting RNA for production or decay

Our genomes are promiscuously transcribed into RNA. How cells manage to sort this massive genomic output into functional and non-functional material has remained enigmatic. New research describes protein interactions involved in such RNA fate determination.

16.12.2016 | Forskning

Discovery of connection between RNA splicing and decay machineries

RNA synthesis, splicing and degradation are key activities in eukaryotic gene expression regulation. A collaborative effort between researchers from the Max Planck Institute, Martinsried and Aarhus University now reveals the physical basis for linking RNA degradation to the splicing process.