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COVID19 WINNER Dance Your PhD 2021: Biochemical & Biophysical Studies of the COVID-19 N Protein

Biochemical & Biophysical Studies of the COVID-19 Nucleocapsid Protein with RNA This video describes the PhD research of Heather Masson-Forsythe as a part of the Barbar Lab in the Biochemistry & Biophysics department of Oregon State University. The COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 has, within a period of only a year, infected more than 88 million people resulting in over 1.9 million deaths worldwide, as of January 2021, and the numbers are still growing. There is an urgent need to accelerate research into the mechanisms of virus infection, transmission and control. Even with vaccines becoming available, we face hurdles of viral mutation, difficulties in vaccine distribution, misinformation, and a public fearful of new vaccines and treatments. The work presented here focuses on one of the essential proteins encoded in the viral genome, the Nucleocapsid protein (N), which plays critical roles in multiple processes of the infection cycle, including protecting and packaging viral RNA as a virus is assembled. Likely drug treatments could target and disrupt the N-protein’s interactions with RNA, thereby disrupting the building of a virus and replication. The Nucleocapsid protein is large and contains a mixture of structured and flexible regions that are important for attaching to RNA. To study the biochemical & biophysical properties of the protein I use a variety of methods, but the primary tool I use is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). NMR can give us information about what the protein looks like, and how it moves, both of which are essential to have a complete picture of the protein’s function within the virus. Chapter 3 music from local Oregon band, Mons La Hire! This work is funded by an NSF EAGER MCB. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Oregon State University NMR Facility funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, HEI Grant, and by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust grant. And thanks to the Barbar Lab and all our collaborators! For more biochemistry & biophysics dancing, follow me on TikTok! @heycurlytop
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