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Inside the Lab Technology and innovation, Microbiology and immunology

Catching Viral RNA Translation in the Act

Credit: Stasevich Lab/Colorado State University.

What do all viruses have in common? It may sound like the start of a corny joke, but all viruses hijack their hosts to cause damage – a strategy that has captivated researchers at Colorado State University (1). The team have developed a bicistronic biosensor that illuminates in different colors, depending on the type of RNA translation in progress. When normal host translation is happening, the sensor lights up green – but, when a virus is successful in hijacking its host’s ribosomes for viral translation, the sensor illuminates blue. The technology senses both processes happening simultaneously – the first time they have been shown at the single-molecule level in living cells.


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  1. A Koch et al., Nat Struct Mol Biol, [Online ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32958947.
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