UPPSALA UNIVERSITY : UCG : Members : Anders Virtanen
Uppsala universitet
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Anders Virtanen

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University. Home Page

Research: RNA Biology in Eukaryotes

It has become evident during the past few years that RNA plays a much more vital role in all living organisms than initially anticipated, when it was believed that the only role of RNA was to physically convey genetic information stored in DNA to functionally acting proteins. Today it is clear that RNA, besides being the physical link between DNA and protein, plays several other key roles i.e. structural, functional, regulatory and informational roles. At the heart of the processes regulating RNA function in all living organisms are the reactions synthesizing, modifying, re-organizing and degrading RNA. We study primarily enzymes involved in regulating the fate of mRNA. For our studies we use experimental systems based on mammalian and Drosophila cells. A main goal is to understand how mRNA turnover/degradation, through the mRNA specific cap and poly(A) tail, is integrated with other essential mechanisms of gene expression/regulation. Another goal is to identify previously unrecognized small non-coding RNAs (ncRNA) and to determine their functions.

Our studies will be of importance for our general understanding of mechanisms controlling the fate of eukaryotic mRNA. Our current and earlier studies on the interaction between RNA metabolizing enzymes and small ligands (e.g. the cap structure, aminoglycosides) have importance for the development of novel pharmaceutical drugs, specifically new antibiotics.

Five Selected Publications

Mikkelsen, N.E., Johansson, K., Virtanen, A., and Kirsebom, L.A. (2001). Aminoglycoside binding displaces a divalent metal ion in a tRNA-neomycin B complex. Nat. Struct. Biol.  8, 510-514.

Martinez, J., Ren, Y., Nilsson, P., Ehrenberg, M. and Virtanen, A. (2001). The mRNA m7GpppG cap structure stimulates poly(A) removal and amplifies processivity of degradation. J. Biol. Chem. 276, 27923-27929.

Kyriakopoulou, C., Nordvarg, H. and Virtanen, A. (2001). A novel nuclear human poly(A) polymerase, PAPg. J. Biol. Chem. 276, 33504-33511.

Ren, Y., Kirsebom, L. A. and Virtanen, A. (2004) Coordination of divalent metal ions in the active site of poly(A)-specific rinuclease. J. Biol. Chem. 279, 48702-48706.

Balatsos, N.A.A., Nilsson, A., Mazza, C., Cusack, S. and Virtanen, A. (2006). Inhibition of mRNA deadenylation by the nuclear cap binding complex (CBC). J. Biol. Chem. 281, 4571-4522.