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Understanding RNA structures in human development and COVID-19 pathogenicity

23.11.2021 02:59

The distribution, dynamics, and function of RNA structures in human development are under-explored. Two papers by Branco Weiss Alumna Yue Wan and others discussing the function of RNA structures in human development as well as in SARS-CoV-2 have recently been published.

In the first paper, published in Molecular Cell magazine, the researchers systematically assayed RNA structural dynamics and their relationship with gene expression, translation, and decay during human neurogenesis. The scientists showed that genome-wide RNA structure changes during human neurogenesis modulate gene regulatory networks. The Results of the study deepen our understanding of the widespread and complex role of RNA-based gene regulation during human development.

In the second study, published in Nature Communications, Yue Wan an her co-authors investigated the RNA structure and RNA-RNA interactions of wildtype and a delta mutant SARS-CoV-2 in cells. Studying the molecular basis of virus pathogenicity helps to understand how this can be counteracted and how to inhibit and target the replicating virus. The researchers identified twelve potentially functional structural elements within the SARS-CoV-2 genome, observed that subgenomic RNAs can form different structures, and that wildtype and mutant virus genomes fold differently. By deepening our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity and the SARS-CoV-2 infection process, this provides a platform for targeted therapy.

Read the paper in Molecular Cell

Read the paper in Nature Communications