Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Biological Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 115 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Cara T Pager

Committee Members

Marlene Belfort, Alan Chen, Gabriele Fuchs, Pan Li


dumbbell, pseudodumbbell, pseudoknot, RNA structure, Zika virus, RNA, Genetic transcription, Post-translational modification, RNA-protein interactions, RNA interference

Subject Categories



Upon its discovery in 1947, Zika virus has remained in the shadows until its re-emergence in 2015, where Zika virus wreaked havoc on the lives of mothers and their infants around the world. The pathologies related to this virus range from neurological defects, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, and congenital birth defects, such as Congenital Zika Syndrome, spontaneous miscarriages and fetal demise.Since 2015, this virus has been largely studied, but secondary structure and function of RNA structures at the end of the 3’UTR, namely the pseudo-dumbbell and the dumbbell (DB) structures, remains elusive. Thus, this dissertation addresses several questions pertaining to these structures. Firstly, the question of the local RNA secondary structure of the pseudo-dumbbell and DB structures is answered. Secondly, the necessity and sufficiency of each structure is tested, and the biological relevance of each structure is tested as well. Lastly, these structures have demonstrated the ability to form short-range interactions, called pseudoknots. The biological significance of these pseudoknots was revealed as well. Altogether, the pseudo-dumbbell and the DB RNA structures have been shown to be pertinent for translation and replication of Zika virus.

Available for download on Thursday, May 22, 2025

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