Over the last year, Patrick Cramer and his team visualized how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 replicates its RNA genome. Their work revealed the mechanism of the drug remdesivir and enables the development of new antivirals. Cramer is a world leader in the fields of gene transcription and structural biology. Over the last two decades, he provided ground-breaking insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation in cells. He made the first molecular movies of transcription that are used in teaching.

Our laboratory established the molecular mechanisms of gene transcription and its regulation, which underlie cell differentiation and organism development. We developed methods for integrated structural biology of macromolecular assemblies and pioneered the structural analysis of cellular transcription machineries. We also developed functional genomics tools to enable genome-wide kinetic analysis of transcription regulation in human cells. Using complementary structural and functional approaches, we defined the cellular switches underlying gene activity, providing the basis for understanding diseases such as cancer.

When the pandemic started, we set out to use our know-how to elucidate the mechanisms of coronavirus replication and transcription. We solved the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 polymerase and elucidated the mechanisms of action of antiviral such as remdesivir. We now conduct a large search for new types of antiviral compounds that use a different mechanism.

Tags: Coronavirus, RNA Polymerase, Viral Replication, Antiviral Drugs, Structural Biology