Research Topic

RNA Virus Polymerases: Forming Bonds and Balancing Errors

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About this Research Topic

RNA viruses comprise a vast and diverse group of pathogens that infect all forms of life. The best studied and well-known RNA viruses are those that infect animals and humans. Some RNA viruses, including influenza, measles, mumps or respiratory syncytial viruses, are responsible for frequent epidemics in ...

RNA viruses comprise a vast and diverse group of pathogens that infect all forms of life. The best studied and well-known RNA viruses are those that infect animals and humans. Some RNA viruses, including influenza, measles, mumps or respiratory syncytial viruses, are responsible for frequent epidemics in humans. Other RNA viruses can cause infections or outbreaks by transmission from animal reservoirs, like pandemic and zoonotic influenza, rabies, Ebola, Nipah, Hanta or Lassa viruses, and have particularly high mortality. Together these RNA viruses threaten human and animal health, severely impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people every year, and cause many billions of dollars in losses. It is therefore important that we gain a better understanding of how they amplify themselves and how we can stop them. The best place to start is arguably the enzyme that catalyses viral gene expression and replication – the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp).

It is well-recognised that RdRps have a catalytic core that is conserved at a structural level and, to a lesser extent, at a sequence level. This has already led to invaluable insights into structure-function relationships. Recent structures, from e.g. the negative strand RNA viruses, have also shown how the conserved RdRp core is integrated into the viral transcription and replication activities through auxiliary domains and the motions of these domains. Other recent work has focused on the kinetics and dynamics of the RdRp using single-molecule experiments and molecular dynamics simulations, while yet further work has shown how RdRp function is linked to host adaptation and virulence.

In this Rresearch Ttopic, we aim to bring together our most up-do-date understanding of RdRp function and are looking to present a timely and comprehensive overview of novel insights into:

- RdRp structure and dynamics
- The interaction of RdRp with viral RNA
- RdRp fidelity and viral genome mutation
- Interactions of the RdRp with host factors
- The RdRp as target in antiviral strategies


Keywords: RNA-dependant RNA polymerase, virus, structure, pathogenesis, vaccine


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