Dr. William Cantara

Email: cantara.2@osu.edu

B.S. Biochemistry and Physics: Juniata College, 2001-2005
QC Chemist: Croda Inc., 2005-2006
Biosensor Scientist: Conductive Technologies Inc., 2006-2007
Ph.D. Molecular & Structural Biochemistry: NC State Univ., 2007-2012
Postdoc. Researcher: Chemistry & Biochemistry, The Ohio State Univ., 2012-present
Pelotonia Postdoctoral Fellow: The Ohio State University, 2013-2015

Structural mechanisms of retroviral packaging
The 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) of retroviral genomic RNA is highly structured and plays roles in many aspects of replication including promoting reverse transcription, enhancing viral RNA transcription and translation, directing primer annealing, and regulating viral packaging. Therefore, a complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving retroviral replication hinges on our ability to structurally characterize functional domains within 5′UTR and their interactions with essential host and viral factors. We are developing methods to solve structures of large RNAs and RNA:protein complexes in solution using a combination of careful sample preparation and optimization, solution scattering techniques and computational modeling to decipher the structural underpinnings of 5′UTR function in two clinically relevant retroviruses, HIV-1 (the virus that causes AIDS) and HTLV-1 (the virus that causes human T-lymphotropic leukemia).

Modeling substrate specificity in aminoacyl-tRNA editing proteins
High fidelity in ribosome-mediated protein synthesis is predicated on covalent attachment of a cognate amino acid onto the correct set of tRNA isoacceptors. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are responsible for this function; however, many are error prone due to similarities in size, shape and physicochemical properties between different amino acids. Recently, our lab and others have identified freestanding editing proteins able to alleviate these errors through post-transfer editing. Currently, it is unclear how these editing proteins distinguish between cognate and non-cognate aminoacyl-tRNAs. Using biochemical data collected in our lab, I am using computational techniques to understand substrate specificity in these proteins and identify potential catalytic mechanisms.


10. *Cantara, W. A., *Hatterschide, J., Musier-Forsyth, K.  (2017). RiboCAT: a new capillary electrophoresis data analysis tool for nucleic acid probing. RNA 23(2), 240-249.

9. Cantara, W. A., Olson, E. D., Musier-Forsyth, K.  (2017). Analysis of RNA structure using small-angle X-ray scattering. Methods 113, 46-55.

8. *Olson, E. D., *Cantara, W. A., Musier-Forsyth, K.  (2015). New structure sheds light on selective HIV-1 genomic RNA packaging. Viruses 7(8), 4826-4835.

7. *Cantara, W. A., *Olson, E. D. & Musier-Forsyth, K. (2014). Progress and outlook in structural biology of large viral RNAs. Virus Res 193, 24-38.

6. *Jones, C. P., *Cantara, W. A., Olson, E. D. & Musier-Forsyth, K. (2014). Small-angle X-ray scattering-derived structure of the HIV-1 5′ UTR reveals 3D tRNA mimicry. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111, 3395-3400.

5. Cantara, W. A., Murphy, F. V., Demirci, H. & Agris, P. F. (2013). Expanded use of sense codons is regulated by modified cytidines in tRNA. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110, 10964-9.

4. Vendeix, F. A., Murphy, F. V., Cantara, W. A., Leszczynska, G., Gustilo, E. M., Sproat, B., Malkiewicz, A. & Agris, P. F. (2012). Human tRNA(Lys3)(UUU) is pre-structured by natural modifications for cognate and wobble codon binding through keto-enol tautomerism. J Mol Biol 416, 467-85. Featured Article

3. *Cantara, W. A., *Bilbille, Y., Kim, J., Kaiser, R., Leszczynska, G., Malkiewicz, A. & Agris, P. F. (2012). Modifications modulate anticodon loop dynamics and codon recognition of E. coli tRNA(Arg1,2). J Mol Biol 416, 579-97.

2. Cantara, W. A., Crain, P. F., Rozenski, J., McCloskey, J. A., Harris, K. A., Zhang, X., Vendeix, F. A., Fabris, D. & Agris, P. F. (2011). The RNA Modification Database, RNAMDB: 2011 update. Nucleic Acids Res 39, D195-201.

1. Lusic, H., Gustilo, E. M., Vendeix, F. A., Kaiser, R., Delaney, M. O., Graham, W. D., Moye, V. A., Cantara, W. A., Agris, P. F. & Deiters, A. (2008). Synthesis and investigation of the 5-formylcytidine modified, anticodon stem and loop of the human mitochondrial tRNAMet. Nucleic Acids Res 36, 6548-57.

* Authors contributed equally.