Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship Awarded

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Jan Rehwinkel, a Group leader in HIU,  has recently been awarded a Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship to study “Z-RNA and Z-DNA: Novel Inducers of Antiviral Immunity”.  Jan says “In addition to the well-known B- and A-form, double-stranded DNA and RNA can also adopt the so-called Z-conformation. Z-DNA and Z-RNA are characterised by a left-handed double helix, the absence of major grooves and a zig-zag arrangement of the phosphodiester backbone (hence the name, Z-DNA/RNA). Physiological functions of Z-DNA and Z-RNA are incompletely understood. A clue to their potential biological roles is the observation that Z-alpha and Z-beta domains, which specifically bind to Z-DNA and Z-RNA, are found in four proteins that are all involved in innate antiviral immunity. This suggests an important role of Z-DNA and/or Z-RNA in innate antiviral immune responses.  We hypothesize that nucleic acids in Z-conformation are generated specifically in virus-infected cells and are a novel pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) detected by proteins containing Z-alpha and Z-beta domains. This award will allow us to test this idea for ZBP1 (Z-DNA binding protein 1).”