H Nielsen Group

RNA and Gene Medicine Program

Research interests

RNA biology with emphasis on catalytic RNA and epitranscriptomics

Current project areas

  • The flexibility and evolutionary adaptability of RNA-guided nucleotide modifications
  • Specialized ribosomes (including cancer ribosomes)
  • The role of helicases in ribosome biogenesis
  • New RNA cap structures
  • The lariat capping ribozyme
  • Characterization of the circularization pathway in group I introns

Selected publications

  • Nielsen, H., Westhof, E., and Johansen, S.: An mRNA is capped with a 2’, 5’ lariat catalyzed by a group I-like ribozyme. Science 309, 1584-1589 (2005).

  • Beckert, B., Nielsen, H.*, Einvik, C., Johansen, S. D., Westhof, E., and Masquida, B.*: Molecular modelling of the GIR1 branching ribozyme gives new insight into evolution of structurally related ribozymes. EMBO Journal 27, 667-78 (2008).[*Co-corresponding authors]
  • Meyer, M., Nielsen, H., Oliéric, V., Roblin, P., Johansen, S.D., Westhof, E., and Masquida, B.: Speciation of a group I intron into a lariat capping ribozyme. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111 (21): 7659-7664 (2014).
  • Birkedal, U., Christensen-Dalsgaard, M., Krogh, N., Sabarinathan, R., Gorodkin, J., and Nielsen, H.: Profiling of ribose methylations in RNA by high-throughput sequencing. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 54(2):451-5 (2015).

  • Krogh N, Jansson M.D., Häfner S.J., Tehler D., Birkedal U., Christensen-Dalsgaard M., Lund A.H., Nielsen H.: Profiling of 2'-O-Me in human rRNA reveals a subset of fractionally modified positions and provides evidence for ribosome heterogeneity. Nucleic Acids Res. 44:7884-95 (2016).

  • Seistrup K.H., Rose, S., Birkedal, U., Nielsen, H., Huber, H., and Douthwaite, S.: Bypassing rRNA methylation by RsmA/Dim1 during ribosome maturation in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Nanoarchaeum equitans. Nucleic Acids Res. 45:2007-2015.

  • Krogh, N., Pietschmann, M., Schmid, M., Jensen, T.H., Nielsen, H.: Lariat capping as a tool to manipulate the 5’ end of individual yeast mRNA species in vivo. RNA 23:683-695. (2017).


More than 30 years of experience in teaching of cell biology and RNA biology at bachelor and masters level. Organizer of  >20 experimental ph. d. courses. Considerable experience in dissemination of science to the general public.


Anders Lund (BRIC, Copenhagen), Kirsten Grønbæk (Copenhagen), Fredrik Bjørkling (Copenhagen)
Carsten Geisler (Copenhagen)
Markus Bohnsack (Göttingen) and Nick Watkins (Newcastle)
Jerome Cavaillé (Toulouse)
Stephen Douthwaite (Southern Denmark)
Martin Kos (Heidelberg)