Infection by RNA viruses, whose mRNAs are translated by an internal ribosome entry (IRES) mechanism, such as picornaviruses and hepatitis C virus (HCV), remains a significant health threat. For example, rhinovirus causes the common cold and exacerbation of asthma, and enterovirus 71 is currently epidemic in parts of Asia. Notwithstanding the poliovirus vaccines, no effective antiviral reagent exists for picornaviruses. For HCV, several new compounds are being on the market and their efficacies are being monitored. We have been wondering whether the IRES elements in these viral genomes present an Achilles'heel for the viruses, and we have been searching whether specialized ribosome populations might be involved in internal initiation. We discovered that ribosomal protein RPS25, which is modified during infection with poliovirus, is essential for translation of IRES-containing viral RNAs and curiously, also for Dengue virus who's mRNA is translated in a cap-dependent manner. In this application, we propose to study roles for RPS25 in IRES-mediated translation, using a variety of cell-based assays and a large array of single-molecule approaches that are ideally applied to heterogeneous systems such as modified ribosomes. The first specific aim proposes to use a viable haploid cell that lacks RPS25 to study interactions of ribosomes with known IRES-containing RNAs, Dengue viral RNAs and cellular RNAs, that require RPS25, identified in ribosomal profiling experiments. Novel crosslinking assays will be used to map mRNA-RPS25 interactions in living cells.
Aim 2 proposes to study steps in translation that are affected by RPS25 using translation competent-extract and a variety of mRNA targets.
Specific Aim 3 details a very comprehensive approach to study the dynamics and kinetics of IRES-mediated translation and the role for RPS25 variants, employing state-of-the-art single molecule approaches. The last aim proposes to examine effects of specific identified modifications in RPS25 on IRES-mediated translation. Overall, this application will address fundamental aspects of "specialized ribosomes" in the translation of distinct mRNAs. The outcomes of these studies are likely to detail novel mechanisms of gene expression mediated by the ribosome in eukaryotic cells and may point to new venues for antiviral and anticancer therapies.

Public Health Relevance

Infections by picornaviruses, Dengue virus and hepatitis C virus (HCV) remain a significant health threat. For example, there are no vaccines for Dengue virus. We discovered that a lack of ribosomal protein S25 inhibits viral protein production in virus-infected cells. Because picornavirus and HCV mRNAs are translated by a shared internal ribosome entry mechanism, we hypothesize that S25 modification is a viral Achilles'heal. Experiments are proposed to understand how these specialized ribosomes translate viral and certain cellular oncogene mRNAs. Overall, this study will point to new venues for antiviral and anticancer therapies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Virology - B Study Section (VIRB)
Program Officer
Park, Eun-Chung
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Stanford University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code