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VIDEO: Nicolas Locker on Friends or Foes? The Many Routes Caliciviruses Use to Manipulate RNA Granules

Balaji Olety

Research Investigator, Dewpoint Therapeutics

Type Kitchen Table Talk

On April 13, the Dewpoint scientists and community welcomed Nicolas Locker for a Kitchen Table Talk. Nicolas is a trained virologist who has recently joined the condensates community to understand cellular stress responses to viral infections.

Nicolas has devoted his career to studying the RNA-protein interactions in many diverse viruses. In his PhD he studied interactions between viral genomic HIV-1 RNA and cellular splicing and translational machineries with Eric Guittet at the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles and the University of Paris — XI. Then in his postdoc with Peter Lukavsky at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge he studied the RNA structures of HCV. In 2009, Nicolas established his own lab at the University of Surrey to study a multitude of viruses, including enteroviruses, noroviruses, flaviviruses, and caliciviruses, and expanded his scope of work to understand cellular stress responses to viruses. This naturally led Nicolas to work toward understanding condensates involved in viral infection.

In this talk he shares his work on the identification of a novel type of condensate, distinct from stress granules, that result from caliciviral infections. Interestingly, this novel condensate formation is the result of a response from infected cells in a paracrine manner that protects neighboring cells from the new infection. He shares some of this novel work in the video below. I hope you enjoy as much as we did. If you would also like to engage in a conversation with Nicolas about his work, he welcomes emails at

Nicolas Locker on Friends or Foes? The Many Routes Caliciviruses Use to Manipulate RNA Granules

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Balaji Olety (00:00:00):
Welcome to the Kitchen Table Talk. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Professor Nicolas Locker from University of Surrey. Nicolas’s primary focus is understanding RNA/protein interactions. He earned his PhD working on HIV-1 splicing mechanisms, specifically defining how HIV Gag is expressed which we all know how important it is for HIV pathogenesis. I guess that’s when he started to love RNA structures, especially in viruses. He continued that focus in Peter Lukavsky’s lab in University of Cambridge where he extensively worked on RNA structures in viruses, various viruses, specifically HIV in understanding how the internal ribosomal entry sites are recruited to host translational proteins.

Balaji Olety (00:00:59):
Ever since then, he’s razor-sharp focused on translational control that’s exhibited by various viruses, so he established his own lab in 2009 at University of Surrey and continued his work on a multitude of viruses, enteroviruses, noroviruses, HIV, HCV, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated virus, Swine Valley River Virus, and so on, and so forth. A common theme of all of that is basically RNA-protein interactions and viruses, and when we spoke about it, how can I exclude not talking about stress granules. Lately, he’s working on the family members of caliciviruses which causes widespread gastroenteritis as we know, and it’s going to be a very interesting talk that he’s going to present about how caliciviruses hijack, repurpose, and avoid host factors, basically to regulate viral expression.

Balaji Olety (00:02:08):
This is going to be really fascinating because he has done some cool work about how cells communicate to its neighbors basically to watch out for the new bug, basically. So thank you, Professor, for giving this exciting talk. We’re happy to have you here, and it’s all yours.

Nicolas Locker (00:02:31):
Thank you very much for the kind introduction, and thank you for basically having me online today. It’s a great pleasure to speak to everyone. I know I’m not speaking to a virology audience, so I’ve tried to keep the virology light, and maybe sometimes if I take big shortcuts, feel free to make notes, and interrupt me, or ask me for any extensive details.

Nicolas Locker (00:02:58):
What I’ve chose to do is not necessarily to go by the chronological order of what we’ve been doing over the past years in my lab but to try and take you on a bit of a journey with our understanding of how cellular stress responses are manipulated by caliciviruses, and how that impacts on RNA granules during infection using basically three mini-stories that I’ve managed to connect together…

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