Bruce Johnson, Senior Research Director for Computational Science in the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center’s (ASRC) Structural Biology Initiative, was part of a long-term project featured in an article in Science published on Thursday, May 19.
The study, led by Michael F. Summers of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, investigated the structure of part of the RNA molecule that is the genetic material of the HIV virus. Specifically, the team determined what it was about the initial region of the RNA that determined whether the RNA would be packaged into new viruses or translated into viral proteins. By using a H-edited nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) approach — similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a micro scale — the team determined the structure of a 155-nucleotide region of the RNA molecule that is independently capable of directing packaging of the RNA into new virus particles.
Johnson developed software that allowed the research team to process, visualize and interpret the NMR data. He also developed predictive models that helped the researchers predict what the data would be like, a development intrinsic to the success of the project.
“The structure we determined helped us to understand how the HIV RNA is directed into different pathways involved in virus replication,” Johnson said.
The researchers are part of the Center for HIV RNA Studies (CRNA) funded through a grant from the National Institutes of General Medical Science of the National Institutes of Health.
Read the full article here.
About the ASRC: The new CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) is a University-wide venture that elevates CUNY’s legacy of scientific research and education through initiatives in five distinctive, but increasingly interconnected disciplines: Nanoscience, Photonics, Structural Biology, Neuroscience and Environmental Science. Led by Dr. Gillian Small, Vice Chancellor for Research and the ASRC’s executive director, the center is designed to promote a unique, interdisciplinary research culture. Researchers from each of the initiatives work side by side in the ASRC’s core facilities, sharing equipment that is among the most advanced available. Funding for the ASRC from New York State is gratefully acknowledged.