Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin Madison (2016)
Bachelor of Arts, Colby College (2009)
Ribonucleotidyl transferases (rNTases) add untemplated ribonucleotides to diverse RNAs. We have developed TRAID-seq, a screening strategy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to identify sequences added to a reporter RNA at single-nucleotide resolution by overexpressed candidate enzymes from different organisms. The rNTase activities of 22 previously unexplored enzymes were determined. In addition to poly(A)- and poly(U)-adding enzymes, we identified a cytidine-adding enzyme that is likely to be part of a two-enzyme system that adds CCA to tRNAs in a eukaryote; a nucleotidyl transferase that adds nucleotides to RNA without apparent nucleotide preference; and a poly(UG) polymerase, Caenorhabditis elegans MUT-2, that adds alternating uridine and guanosine nucleotides to form poly(UG) tails. MUT-2 is known to be required for certain forms of RNA silencing, and mutants of the enzyme that result in defective silencing did not add poly(UG) tails in our assay. We propose that MUT-2 poly(UG) polymerase activity is required to promote genome integrity and RNA silencing.
View details for PubMedID 30988468
Translation initiation determines both the quantity and identity of the protein that is encoded in an mRNA by establishing the reading frame for protein synthesis. In eukaryotic cells, numerous translation initiation factors prepare ribosomes for polypeptide synthesis; however, the underlying dynamics of this process remain unclear1,2. A central question is how eukaryotic ribosomes transition from translation initiation to elongation. Here we use in vitro single-molecule fluorescence microscopy approaches in a purified yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae translation system to monitor directly, in real time, the pathways of late translation initiation and the transition to elongation. This transition was slower in our eukaryotic system than that reported for Escherichia coli3-5. The slow entry to elongation was defined by a long residence time of eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) on the 80S ribosome after the joining of individual ribosomal subunits-a process that is catalysed by this universally conserved initiation factor. Inhibition of the GTPase activity of eIF5B after the joining of ribosomal subunits prevented the dissociation of eIF5B from the 80S complex, thereby preventing elongation. Our findings illustrate how the dissociation of eIF5B serves as a kinetic checkpoint for the transition from initiation to elongation, and how its release may be governed by a change in the conformation of the ribosome complex that triggers GTP hydrolysis.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-019-1561-0
View details for PubMedID 31534220
Translation elongation is a highly coordinated, multistep, multifactor process that ensures accurate and efficient addition of amino acids to a growing nascent-peptide chain encoded in the sequence of translated messenger RNA (mRNA). Although translation elongation is heavily regulated by external factors, there is clear evidence that mRNA and nascent-peptide sequences control elongation dynamics, determining both the sequence and structure of synthesized proteins. Advances in methods have driven experiments that revealed the basic mechanisms of elongation as well as the mechanisms of regulation by mRNA and nascent-peptide sequences. In this review, we highlight how mRNA and nascent-peptide elements manipulate the translation machinery to alter the dynamics and pathway of elongation.
View details for PubMedID 29925264