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NC State Biochemistry

 

 

Cynthia L. Hemenway
Professor of Biochemistry

Education:
PhD, Columbia University
Postdoctoral, Monsanto

Contact:
Office: 339 Polk Hall
Phone:
   Office: 919.515.5719
Email: Cynthia L. Hemenway

Cynthia L. Hemenway

Website: Visit our Lab Home Page

Research Areas: Single-stranded RNA plant viruses, their molecular biology and the biochemical aspects of the cellular infection cycle

RNA-directed RNA synthesis is essential for survival of numerous prokaryotic and eukaryotic RNA viruses. Despite diverse hosts, many plus-strand RNA viruses exhibit similar mechanisms for various aspects of genome expression. Potato virus X (PVX) is an excellent model system for both genetic and biochemical analyses of RNA synthesis. This virus contains a relatively small, single genomic RNA that is functionally monocistronic and is available as an infectious clone. A protoplast replication system has been developed for quantification of plus- and minus-strand PVX RNA accumulation, which is a powerful system for genetic analyses. Replication of PVX to high levels in tobacco plants has enabled the development of soluble extracts that support template-dependent PVX RNA synthesis and utilization of infected plants for revertant studies. Extensive studies in our laboratory have found that terminal and internal conserved elements and long-distance interactions among these elements are required for synthesis of both minus- and plus-strand RNA in vivo and in vitro. Current research is focused on the role of local elements, long-distance RNA/RNA interactions, and RNA/protein interactions in translation of the viral replicase and subsequent transcription events. Specifically, experiments are underway to determine if RNA/RNA and RNA/protein interactions direct a specific genomic RNA configuration that enhances gene expression, and if assembly of translation and transcription complexes results in further remodeling of this configuration.


Keywords

plant RNA virus, virus gene expression, RNA replication, RNA/RNA and RNA/protein interactions, RNA structure/function