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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Our long-term goal is to uncover the assembly and replication mechanisms of multi-segmented RNA viruses, including rotaviruses, with sufficient detail to identify novel anti-viral targets and improve existing vaccines. To achieve this, I use a spectrum of techniques, ranging from single-molecule fluorescence, super-resolution imaging to high-throughput RNA structure probing tools. We use single-molecule assays for investigating inter-segment RNA-RNA interactions in rotaviruses and identifying the key RNA-binding proteins mediating these interactions. Our recent discoveries have raised a number of new questions about the mechanisms of multi-segmented virus genome assembly, which I will be pursuing as a new Research Fellow in Cambridge.

Key Projects, Countries, and Partners

Germany, Munich: LMU (Don Lamb) and MPI (Ralf Jungmann)
USA, Chapel Hill, UNC (Alain Laederach)
USA, Wake Forest University (Sarah McDonald)
Cambridge, UK: Tuomas Knowles


Key publications: 
  1. Geiger F., Papa G., Arter W.E., Acker J., Saar K.L., Erkamp N.A., Qi R., Bravo JPK, Strauss S., Krainer G., Burrone O., Jungmann R., Knowles TPJ, Engelke H., Borodavka A. (2020) Rotavirus replication factories are complex biomolecular condensates. Preprint available on bioRxiv; doi:
  2. Bravo JPK, Bartnik K, Venditti L, Gail EH, Davidovich C, Lamb DC, Tuma R, Calabrese AN, Borodavka A. (2020) Structural basis of rotavirus RNA chaperone displacement and RNA annealing. Preprint available on bioRxiv; 2020.10.26.354233.
  3. Borodavka, A., Desselberger U., Patton JT. (2018). Genome packaging in multi-segmented dsRNA viruses: distinct mechanisms with similar outcomes. 33: 106-112. Curr Opin Virol. PMID: 30145433.
  4. Borodavka, A., Dykeman, E.C., Schrimpf, W., Lamb, D.C. (2017). Protein-mediated RNA folding governs sequence-specific interactions between rotavirus genome segments. Elife 6, e27453. PMCID: PMC5621836.
  5. Borodavka, A., Singaram, S.W., Stockley, P.G., Gelbart, W.M., Ben-Shaul, A, Tuma, R. (2016). Sizes of Long RNA Molecules Are Determined by the Branching Patterns of Their Secondary Structures. Biophys J. 111, 2077-2085. PMCID: PMC5113152.
  6. Borodavka, A., Ault, J., Stockley, P.G., Tuma, R. (2015). Evidence that avian reovirus σNS is an RNA chaperone: implications for genome segment assortment. Nucleic Acids Res. 43, 7044-57. PMCID: PMC4538827.
  7. Borodavka, A., Tuma, R., Stockley, P.G. (2013). A two-stage mechanism of viral RNA compaction revealed by single-molecule fluorescence. RNA Biol. 10, 481-9. PMCID: PMC3710354.
  8. Borodavka, A., Tuma, R., Stockley, P.G. (2012). Evidence that viral RNAs have evolved for efficient, two-stage packaging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109, 15769-74. PMCID: PMC3465389.
Department of Biochemistry
Molecular mechanisms underpinning RNA-controlled self-assembly of multi-segmented viral genomes.
Viral genome packaging, virus assembly, biomolecular condensates, RNA dynamics and RNA chaperones, rotaviruses.
Dr Alex  Borodavka

Contact Details

Department of Biochemistry
Hopkins Building, RNA Labs
8 Tennis Court Road
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: 
Person keywords: 
Immune Evasion
RNA Structure
Structural Biology
RNA binding proteins
Gene Expression
Genome Packaging