BOWLING GREEN, KY – Students and faculty in Western Kentucky University’s Biology Department have published a study in the Journal of Bacteriology on an unusual RNA molecule involved in gene regulation.

Viruses must replicate inside host cells and they are dependent on the host cell machinery to express their genes. However, because viruses are small and they carry limited genetic information, they have evolved interesting mechanisms to control the expression of their genes during the infection process.

Dr. Rodney King and his students Alice Wright of Youngsville, N.C.; Courtney Miles of Sanders; Christopher S. Pendleton of Bowling Green; Andrew Ebelhar of Owensboro; Stephanie Lane of Old Hickory, Tenn.; and Prasanna Tamarapu Parthasarathy of India describe the discovery and characterization of new examples of unusual RNA molecules that facilitate gene expression in viruses that infect bacteria. The article, Newly Discovered Antiterminator RNAs in Bacteriophage, appears in the October issue of the Journal of Bacteriology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

“The central enzyme in gene expression in all cells is RNA polymerase,” Dr. King said. “This enzyme is responsible for copying the DNA information so that it can be decoded into proteins and other molecules that allow cells to function. Unusual mechanisms of gene control often provide revealing insights into how the activity of RNA polymerase can be manipulated to change gene expression patterns.”

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