skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Mihailescu, Mihaela Rita"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2024
  2. The s2m, a highly conserved 41-nt hairpin structure in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, serves as an attractive therapeutic target that may have important roles in the virus life cycle or interactions with the host. However, the conserved s2m in Delta SARS-CoV-2, a previously dominant variant characterized by high infectivity and disease severity, has received relatively less attention than that of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The focus of this work is to identify and define the s2m changes between Delta and SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent impact of those changes upon the s2m dimerization and interactions with the host microRNA miR-1307-3p. Bioinformatics analysis of the GISAID database targeting the s2m element reveals a >99% correlation of a single nucleotide mutation at the 15th position (G15U) in Delta SARS-CoV-2. Based on1H NMR spectroscopy assignments comparing the imino proton resonance region of s2m and the s2m G15U at 19°C, we show that the U15–A29 base pair closes, resulting in a stabilization of the upper stem without overall secondary structure deviation. Increased stability of the upper stem did not affect the chaperone activity of the viral N protein, as it was still able to convert the kissing dimers formed by s2m G15U into a stable duplex conformation, consistent with the s2m reference. However, we show that the s2m G15U mutation drastically impacts the binding of host miR-1307-3p. These findings demonstrate that the observed G15U mutation alters the secondary structure of s2m with subsequent impact on viral binding of host miR-1307-3p, with potential consequences on immune responses.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 16, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
    Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common age-related neurodegenerative disease, is associated with various forms of cognitive and functional impairment that worsen with disease progression. AD is typically characterized as a protein misfolding disease, in which abnormal plaques form due to accumulation of tau and β-amyloid (Aβ) proteins. An assortment of proteins is responsible for the processing and trafficking of Aβ, including sortilin-related receptor 1 (SORL1). Recently, a genome-wide association study of microRNA-related variants found that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2291418 within premature microRNA-1229 (pre-miRNA-1229) is significantly associated with AD. Moreover, the levels of the mature miRNA-1229-3p, which has been shown to regulate the SORL1 translation, are increased in the rs2291418 pre-miRNA-1229 variant. In this study we used various biophysical techniques to show that pre-miRNA-1229 forms a G-quadruplex secondary structure that coexists in equilibrium with the canonical hairpin structure, potentially controlling the production of the mature miR-1229-3p, and furthermore, that the AD-associated SNP rs2291418 pre-miR-1229 changes the equilibrium between these structures. Thus, the G-quadruplex structure we identified within pre-miRNA-1229 could potentially act as a novel therapeutic target in AD. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity for a more fundamental understanding of the coronavirus life cycle. The causative agent of the disease, SARS-CoV-2, is being studied extensively from a structural standpoint in order to gain insight into key molecular mechanisms required for its survival. Contained within the untranslated regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome are various conserved stem-loop elements that are believed to function in RNA replication, viral protein translation, and discontinuous transcription. While the majority of these regions are variable in sequence, a 41-nucleotide s2m element within the genome 3′ untranslated region is highly conserved among coronaviruses and three other viral families. In this study, we demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 s2m element dimerizes by forming an intermediate homodimeric kissing complex structure that is subsequently converted to a thermodynamically stable duplex conformation. This process is aided by the viral nucleocapsid protein, potentially indicating a role in mediating genome dimerization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the s2m element interacts with multiple copies of host cellular microRNA (miRNA) 1307-3p. Taken together, our results highlight the potential significance of the dimer structures formed by the s2m element in key biological processes and implicate the motif as a possible therapeutic drug target for COVID-19 and other coronavirus-related diseases.

    more » « less