Friday, June 23, 2017

Combined single molecule experimental and computational approaches for understanding the unfolding pathway of a viral translation enhancer that participates in a conformational switch

My-Tra Le, Wojciech K Kasprzak, Bruce A. Shapiro & Anne E Simon

How plus-strand [+]RNA virus genomes transition from translation templates to replication templates is a matter of much speculation. We have previously proposed that, for Turnip crinkle virus, binding of the encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) to the 3′UTR of the [+]RNA template promotes a regional wide-spread conformational switch to an alternative structure that disassembles the cap-independent translation element (CITE) in the 3′UTR. The active 3′CITE folds into a tRNA-like T-shaped structure (TSS) that binds to 80S ribosomes and 60S subunits in the P-site. In this Point-of-View, we discuss the history of our research on the TSS and our recent report combining coarse level single molecule force spectroscopy (optical tweezers) with fine-grain computer simulations of this experimental process and biochemical approaches to obtain a detailed understanding of how RdRp binding in the TSS vicinity might lead to an extensive rearrangement of the RNA structure.

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