Ambigrammatic Viruses

TYPEStatistical & Bio Seminar
Speaker:Michael Wilkinson
Affiliation:The Open University, UK
Time:14:30 - 15:30
Location:Lidow Nathan Rosen (300)

Some simple RNA viruses have a surprising property: the
complementary strand of their genetic code lacks stop codons,
and could code for a protein.

I shall discuss some observations on the structure of the genetic code which explain
how this 'ambigrammatic' property can evolve, and which can distinguish
different explanations of why it offers a reproductive advantage.

A technique called ribosome profiling shows that the ambigrammatic viral
RNA becomes covered by a string of ribosomes, which do not detach from its end.
I speculate that this provides a mechanism to hide viral RNA from host cell
defences, which may be utilised by more complex viruses.

This talk reports collaboration with Hanna Retallack, David Yllanes, Greg Huber,
Amy Kistler and Joe DeRisi.