Theses Doctoral

Structural Studies of NediV-IRES-Mediated Translation Initiation

Altomare, Clara Gilda

Viruses require a host cell to replicate and proliferate; upon infection they appropriate host resources and molecular machines. Specifically, viruses use ribosomes of the host to translate the information in their genome. Some viruses with single-stranded RNA genomes contain highly structured non-coding regions of RNA called internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) which are used to hijack the host’s ribosomes through a non-canonical cap-independent initiation pathway. Canonical translation initiation is a highly complex and regulated process: at least a dozen translation factors are necessary, and it is the rate-limiting step in eukaryotic translation. Viruses containing an IRES forgo canonical eukaryotic translation initiation factors and bypass some steps of canonical translation initiation by mimicking part of the host’s initiation machinery. The simplest among these IRESs are found in the intergenic region (IGR) of viruses in the family Dicistroviridae. These type IV IRESs from dicistroviruses have been structurally characterized in great detail in using the cricket paralysis virus (CrPV) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). To better understand how structure affects the function of these type IV IRESs, using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), we have characterized a recently discovered IRES found in the IGR of the genome of Nedicistrovirus (NediV).

Four complexes that represent each step in the alternative translation initiation mechanism were prepared and analyzed to solve the 3D structure and characterize the mechanism by which the NediV-IRES captures host ribosomes. With this, we were able to understand how the shorter stem-loop V (SL-V) of NediV-IRES impacts the well-characterized interaction of SL-V with eukaryotic small subunit ribosomal protein 25 (eS25) (Landry et al., 2009), which is important for the IRES:40S complex formation. This shortened stem-loop has been shown to fold in a way that does not support stable binding to the small ribosomal subunit (40S) and subsequent recruitment of the large ribosomal subunit (60S). NediV-IRES, rather, relies on direct recruitment of the 80S ribosome, which has been seen more commonly at low concentrations of Mg²⁺ for CrPV-IRES (Petrov et al., 2016). Solved structures also suggest that upon loading, NediV-IRES skips the first eEF2-dependent pseudo-translocation step necessary to bind to the ribosomal P site without the need of eEF2. Because of their simplicity, these type IV IRESs represent a robust potential tool for cell-free and vector-driven translation.

Due to these structural and mechanistic differences observed, we propose that NediV-IRES, along with the NediV-like Antarctic picorna-like virus 1 (APLV-1)-IRES (Lu, 2019), represents a novel type IV IRES subclass. 


  • thumnail for Altomare_columbia_0054D_16283.pdf Altomare_columbia_0054D_16283.pdf application/pdf 3.4 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Hunt, John F.
Frank, Joachim
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 30, 2020