"Influenza virus is an RNA virus of the Orthomyxoviridae family, which includes three Genera: influenza A, B, and C. We will focus on influenza A virus and study host/pathogen interactions. While mammals can be infected by the pathogen either sporadically or with well adapted lineages, aquatic birds are the natural reservoir of influenza A viruses.
Increasing our understanding of virus/host interactions may enable us to better identify viral determinants of host range from the protein level and molecular markers of interspecies transmission. So far most of the knowledge on influenza virus and host cell interactions was gained on mammalian models and very little is known on avian cell/influenza virus interactions. Our first objective will therefore be to identify avian cellular proteins that interact with influenza virus proteins. This approach will be followed by an investigation of the protein domains involved and the identification of molecular determinants of host specificity. The final objective of the present proposal is to study the mechanisms of avian host/influenza virus interactions.
The difference between avian and mammalian protein interactions with influenza virus proteins could indicate which gene pools (or mutations) are more likely than others to contribute to future pandemics. Hence we hope to be able to utilize our findings to target and actively survey particular virus strains and key hosts. Our work should also allow the scientific community to make sure that currently used vaccines and antiviral drugs would be efficient to counter more “risky” animal influenza viruses in terms of threat to interspecies transmission."
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