REU Project 3—RNA based mechanisms of transcription elongation control—Dr. Rodney King, Biology Department
The goal of this project is to understand a unique mechanism of transcription elongation control originally discovered in the bacteriophage HK022. The specific hypothesis is that the activity of RNA-based antiterminators depends upon the recognition of sequence and structural information in the nascent transcript by RNA polymerase. The specific aims are: 1) to identify additional examples of an-titerminator RNAs in lambdoid phages; 2) to use in vivo, in vitro and in silico approaches to determine the structurally and functionally important features of the newly identified antiterminator RNAs; and 3) to complete the annotation of two new phage genomes that possess RNA-based antiterminators. The antiterminator sequences discovered in HK022 provide unique examples of RNAs that control gene expression by directly modifying the transcription apparatus. Unusual modes of gene regulation are potential targets for drug design. Therefore, a better understanding of antiterminator RNAs and their recognition by RNA polymerase may facilitate the discovery or development of therapeutic agents capable of altering the expression of virulence genes and thus attenuating disease processes.