NAR’s Breakthrough Articles present high-impact studies answering long-standing questions in the field of nucleic acids research and/or opening up new areas and mechanistic hypotheses for investigation. These articles are chosen by the Editors on the recommendation of Editorial Board Members and Referees. Articles are accompanied by a brief synopsis explaining the findings of the paper and where they fit in the broader context of nucleic acids research. They represent the very best papers published at NAR.
The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (SCoV2) highlights the need for coordinated research to combat COVID-19. A particularly important aspect is the development of medication. In addition to viral proteins, structured RNA elements represent a potent alternative as drug targets. The search for drugs that target RNA requires their high-resolution structural characterization. Using NMR spectroscopy, a worldwide consortium of NMR researchers aims to characterize potential RNA drug targets of SCoV2. This study reports the characterization of 15 conserved RNA elements located at the 5′ end, the ribosomal frameshift segment and the 3′-untranslated region of the SCoV2 genome, their large-scale production and NMR-based secondary structure determination. The NMR data reported here provide the basis for NMR investigations of RNA function, RNA interactions with viral and host proteins and screening campaigns to identify potential RNA binders for pharmaceutical intervention.
Multiple outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndromes caused by coronaviruses over the past 18 years, the latest leading to (as of this writing) nearly one million deaths across the world, have demonstrated the pressing need for new therapeutically-relevant and durable druggable targets for the treatment of coronavirus infections. This paper describes the characterization of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome structure using a variety of experimental and computational methods.
The study of how organellar genomes (found in chloroplasts and mitochondria) are maintained, and methods for study of that process is less well understood than corresponding processes in nuclear genomes, particularly outside of the animal kingdom. In this study, investigators construct and characterize the first highly error prone version of an organellar DNA polymerase to study the mechanism that govern organellar genome maintenance in non-animal systems.