Congratulations to Katrina Kutchko (Alain Laederach Lab) and Emily Madden (Mark Heise Lab) who’s paper titled “Structural divergence creates new functional features in alphavirus genomes” was recently published in Nucleic Acids Research. Katrina’s collaborative work with the Moorman and Heise labs, studying the experimentally determined structures of the Chikungunya, Sindbis and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, revealed a surprising lack of conservation in the RNA structure of these three related alphaviruses. This work suggests that these viruses are evolving their genomic structure much faster than expected and that traditional metrics of conservation like co-variation may not adequately capture RNA evolution in viruses. You can read Katrina’s paper at

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