2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Computational Studies of Biomolecular Recognition in Viral Leukemia
Shane M. Bernard
Dr. Maria Nagan, Faculty Mentor

Adult T-cell leukemia, caused by a virus called human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HLTV-1), infects 10 to 20 million people throughout the world. Rex, a critical viral protein, prevents the host cell from breaking down viral RNA. Rex binds to a specific sequence in viral RNA called the Rex Response Element (RxRE). The purpose of this study is to better understand the roles that arginine-rich motifs and the presence of water play in Rex recognition of RxRE. Elucidation of how proteins recognize RNA will contribute to a greater understanding of RNAs possible astrobiological origins. Systems have been built under 200 mM KCl in the presence of explicit water molecules, and relaxation of the solvent has been performed. The thermodynamics of the systems have been analyzed for the convergence of equilibration parameters, and the presence of hydrogen bonds between arginines and the backbones has been compared across multiple models.

Keywords: leukemia, RNA, astrobiology, virus, protein, cell, hydrogen bonds, arginine-rich motifs

Topic(s):Astrobiology
Chemistry
Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 34-2
Location: MG 1098
Time: 1:30

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