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Viral Noncoding RNAs: Approaching Answers

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D.
Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Yale University


Noncoding (nc)RNAs play pivotal roles in the regulation of gene expression, but exhibit a diversity of functions whether encoded by cellular or viral genomes. One such ncRNA expressed in cells infected by the oncogenic gamma herpesvirus KSHV is the highly abundant polyadenylated nuclear (PAN) RNA, which is required for production and release of new virus particles. Our studies of PAN RNA uncovered the existence of RNA elements called ENEs, which stabilize transcripts by engaging the polyA tail or 3’-terminal A-rich tract in a triple-helical RNA structure that obstructs the initiation of degradation. Structural analyses of ENEs from the PAN ncRNA, from the vertebrate long ncRNA MALAT1 and recently from double ENEs complexed with polyA have led to unanticipated identification of novel polyA tail interactions that are important for stabilizing RNAs inside cells. The most recent high-resolution X-ray structures will be discussed.

Lecture will be presented remotely at

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