Allosteric and dynamic control of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase function and fidelity

Dennis S. Winston, David D. Boehr

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


All RNA viruses encode an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) responsible for genome replication. It is now recognized that enzymes in general, and RdRps specifically, are dynamic macromolecular machines such that their moving parts, including active site loops, play direct functional roles. While X-ray crystallography has provided deep insight into structural elements important for RdRp function, this methodology generally provides only static snapshots, and so is limited in its ability to report on dynamic fluctuations away from the lowest energy conformation. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and other biophysical techniques have brought new insight into RdRp function by their ability to characterize the trajectories, kinetics and thermodynamics of conformational motions. In particular, these methodologies have identified coordinated motions among conserved structural motifs necessary for nucleotide selection and incorporation. Disruption of these motions through amino acid substitutions or inhibitor binding impairs RdRp function. Understanding and re-engineering these motions thus provides exciting new avenues for anti-viral strategies. This chapter outlines the basics of these methodologies, summarizes the dynamic motions observed in different RdRps important for nucleotide selection and incorporation, and illustrates how this information can be leveraged towards rational vaccine strain development and anti-viral drug design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationViral Replication Enzymes and their Inhibitors Part A
EditorsCraig E. Cameron, Jamie J. Arnold, Laurie S. Kaguni
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages45
ISBN (Print)9780128234686
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1874-6047

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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