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K-State Today

August 29, 2023

Junpeng Deng to present in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar

Submitted by Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Junpeng Deng, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Oklahoma State University, will be the featured speaker for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Deng will present "Poxvirus immune evasion mechanisms" at 4 p.m. in 120 Ackert Hall.

Poxviruses include many human and animal pathogens and are employed as vaccine vectors for infectious diseases and cancers. Orthopoxvirus9, or OPXV, genus includes variola, monkeypox, cowpox and vaccinia. Variola has been eradicated from nature, but the resurrection of an extinct poxvirus through synthetic biology has been demonstrated. The waning of anti-OPXV herd immunity has increased the risk of zoonotic OPXV infections. Monkeypox is highly virulent in humans, and the recent increase in human monkeypox cases across a wide geographic area is a concern for global health security. Deng's lab has been studying poxvirus proteins that are involved in crucial biological processes, including viral membrane biogenesis and host immune evasions, by using biochemical and biophysical approaches. One major host immune response protein that poxviruses must overcome is SAMD9/9L. Lately, the structural and functional data revealed a novel endoribonuclease function in human SAMD9/9L, which upon activation, specifically targets and destroys tRNAPhe for translational control. The discovery not only provides new insights into poxvirus/host arm race mechanisms but also opens a new window for developing therapeutics against devastating human diseases associated with gain of function genetic mutations in SAMD9/9L.