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The Hill Lab @ York

Molecular mechanisms of viral gene expression


Viruses do things differently

Translation of mRNA by the ribosome is essential for all life. It’s normally exceptionally accurate, with spontaneous error rates of only ~1 in 100,000 codons.


When RNA viruses infect cells, they use the ribosomes in the host cell to translate their genomes. However, they often force the ribosome to make 'mistakes' - e.g. shift into a different reading frame, initiate in a different place, or read through a stop codon. 


These ‘forced errors’ are actually tightly-regulated events that are vitally important to viral gene expression. If disrupted, many viruses fail to complete their replication cycles. We're trying to better understand these events at a molecular level.

Latest Publications

Article: A new family of bacterial ribosome hibernation factors

In collaboration with Sergey Melniknov's group at the University of Newcastle ( we identify Balon, a new ribosome hibernation factor present in ~20% of all bacteria. A series of cryo-EM structures describe how it binds to the A-site of both vacant and actively translating ribosomes in association with EF-Tu(GDP). The structure also reveals a evolutionary connection with aeRF1 family proteins.

Find Us


Department of Biology

University of York

Wentworth Way


United Kingdom

YO10 5DD


+44 (0)1904 328688

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