Microbiology and Immunology
Note: this project takes place on Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, IL
Our lab focuses on exploring different antiviral treatments through understanding how viruses interact with infected cells and the cellular requirements for infection. Specifically, this project is focused on a key cellular protein called eIF5A, which is involved in making certain cellular proteins from messenger RNA, and its involvement in a viral infection. One area of this project is exploring Chikungunya virus’s (CHIKV) requirement for eIF5A. CHIKV is transmitted to people through infected mosquitoes and infects millions of people per year around the world. I recently found that inhibiting a part of eIF5A processing required for eIF5A’s function with the drug GC7 drastically inhibited CHIKV infection. This novel finding allows for further in-depth investigation into how inhibiting this process affects CHIKV. Another area of this project involves the enterovirus Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) which can persistently infect the heart and is responsible for thousands of heart transplants per year. We have been developing a persistent cell model (CVB3 doesn’t rapidly kill the cells, can remain present for months) to allow us to further study the interactions of CVB3 during a persistent infection and found that CVB3 is reduced in persistently infected cells with GC7 treatment. This is a new project in which little is known allowing for the development for a multitude of virology and molecular biology techniques. The goals for the summer project would be to further characterize the antiviral activity of GC7 during a CHIKV infection or fully characterize GC7 activity during a persistent infection with CVB3. For the CHIKV project, we would ideally identify viral proteins that are responsible for CHIKV resistance to GC7 and create viruses with these mutations and characterize the growth and other attributes of the mutant virus.
My research assistant will learn sterile cell culture techniques, basic virology techniques such as drug treating with GC7 and titering virus, design primers for selective mutagenesis, and observe changes in virus characteristics.