Viruses depend on the host cell's translation apparatus and use diverse strategies to usurp it, to inhibit cellular translation and to evade cellular mechanisms that suppress viral translation. Some viruses disrupt the cap- binding complex eIF4F, inhibiting cap-dependent initiation, whereas eIF2 is inactivated in virus-infected host cells, impairing recruitment of initiator tRNA to the ribosome. Many viral mRNAs evade these inhibitory mechanisms via conserved structured RNA elements that engage with components of the translation apparatus to initiate translation by non-canonical mechanisms. We will characterize three such processes - internal ribosomal entry, eIF2-independent initiation, and termination-dependent reinitiation - using in vitro reconstitution to establish facor requirements and characterize individual steps in each process. In parallel, we will use biochemical and biophysical approaches to determine the structures of these RNA elements, and of ribosomal initiation complexes assembled on them. Additional analysis of IRESs (internal ribosomal entry sites) will focus on the functions of conserved motifs in Type 1 (e.g. poliovirus) and Type 2 (encephalomyocarditis virus) IRESs, their interactions with eIF2, eIF4B and PCBP2 and the functions of these factors in IRES- mediated initiation, identification of factors required to expose the initiation codon sequestered at the 3'-border of the Type 1 rhinovirus IRES for ribosomal inspection, and determination of factor requirements for initiation on the structurally distinct Hepatitis A virus IRES. Analysis of eIF2-independent initiation will focus on how Sindbis virus subgenomic mRNA engages a 40S subunit so that the initiation codon is placed directly into the P-site, how Ligatin and related factors then promote binding of initiator tRNA, and how intergenic region IRESs from novel picornalike-viruses initiate translation without initiator tRNA or eIF2. We will recapitulate termination-reinitiation on Respiratory syncytial virus M2 mRNA by in vitro reconstitution to determine which factors are required and to establish an outline mechanism for this process. Taken together, these studies will yield detailed, comprehensive insights into the interactions between viral mRNAs and components of the translation apparatus, providing a framework for understanding the mechanisms of a diversity of non-canonical initiation processes used by clinically important viruses, and for the design of inhibitors.

Public Health Relevance

Many RNA viruses, including several major human pathogens, contain conserved, highly structured RNA elements in their mRNAs that bind to and coordinate the activities of initiation factors that recruit ribosomes to the mRNA to translate int viral proteins. These RNA elements are essential for virus viability, and because they promote viral protein synthesis by mechanisms that are distinct from those used by the cell, are appealing targets for inhibition by antiviral drugs. We are investigating how `internal ribosomal entry sites' (IRESs) in picornaviruses (such as enterovirus 71, rhinovirus and Hepatitis A virus), termination-reinitiation signals (e.g. in Respiratory syncytial virus) and other specialized translation initiation elements (e.g. in alphaviruses) function, which will give insights that coul be used in the development of antiviral drugs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Virology - A Study Section (VIRA)
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Park, Eun-Chung
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Suny Downstate Medical Center
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Zinoviev, Alexandra; Goyal, Akanksha; Jindal, Supriya et al. (2018) Functions of unconventional mammalian translational GTPases GTPBP1 and GTPBP2. Genes Dev 32:1226-1241
Asnani, Mukta; Pestova, Tatyana V; Hellen, Christopher U T (2016) PCBP2 enables the cadicivirus IRES to exploit the function of a conserved GRNA tetraloop to enhance ribosomal initiation complex formation. Nucleic Acids Res 44:9902-9917