Epigenetic Silencing of Retroviral DNA
All life forms defend their genome integrity against foreign DNA invasion. Retroviruses, whose infection results in the reverse transcription of the viral RNA genome to double-stranded DNA and integration of the viral DNA into the host genome, are perhaps the most successful DNA invaders. Chromatinization and epigenetic silencing of incoming retroviral DNA is a potent, likely default, response of mammalian cells to defend against retroviral DNA invasion, but the machineries and mechanisms for the silencing of retroviral DNA is drastically understudied.
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Programmed Frameshift Recoding of HIV-1 mRNA
HIV-1 uses a single mRNA to encode Gag (viral structure proteins) and Pol (viral enzymes protease, reverse transcriptase, and integrase). The pol gene is positioned downstream of and slightly overlapping with the gag gene, but does not have its own translational start codon and is in a different reading frame (−1 nucleotide) relative to gag. To achieve the synthesis of Pol, HIV-1 has developed a mechanism named Programmed Frameshift Recoding (PFR), by which ribosomes slip backward one nucleotide (-1 frameshift) to leave the gag reading frame and shift to the pol reading frame to produce the Gag-Pol fusion protein.
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Host Factors Regulating SARS-CoV-2 Infection
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are using genetic and biochemical strategies to identify host factors essential for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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