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Roles of miRNAs in Herpes simplex virus 1 infection

Final Report Summary - HSVMIR-IJ (Roles of miRNAs in Herpes simplex virus 1 infection)

Project FP7-2013-PEOPLE-CIG #618587 “Roles of miRNAs in Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Infection and Pathogenesis (HSVmiR-IJ) led by dr. Igor Jurak at the Department of Biotechnology, University of Rijeka.
Project Objectives. Herpes simplex virus is an important human pathogen and widely used model to study enveloped viruses and host defense mechanisms. The main focus of the research project was to investigate roles of miRNAs, regulatory small non-coding RNAs, in HSV-1 infection. It has been shown previously that HSV-1 encodes numerous miRNAs (Umbach et l. 2016, Jurak et al. 2010) and some of them are differentially expressed during productive and latent infection. The function of these molecules is poorly understood. With the help of Department and its administration, the project was successfully carried out and the research goals have been accomplished to an extent. The research project goals were 1) define the roles of HSV-1 encoded miRNA focusing on miR-H1/H6 and 2) define the roles of host miRNAs in virus replication. Due its complexity, the parts of project are still ongoing, however have been presented at research meetings and it is expected to be published within 2 years. IJ has defined the exact sequences of virus encoded miRNAs, which will greatly contribute to the future functional studies. Moreover, they have thoroughly explored the dynamic changes of host miRNAs during productive HSV-1, and found that only a subset of host miRNAs is dynamically changed, which might have significant effect on virus infection. Nonetheless, the main goal of the project has been fulfilled, i.e. I. Jurak has successfully integrated within the Department of Biotechnology and was offered the permanent position. Currently he acts as assistant professor at the department, the member of Committee for doctoral studies, and he is the head of the Laboratory for Molecular Virology. IJ has presented his research on several international conferences, published two publications, and has at least three manuscripts in writing. During the MC- grant he has recruited three doctoral students and one postdoc in his lab securing founds support them. IJ during the four year period has obtained the most competitive grant in Croatia (Croatina Research Foundation), a grant from the European Social Found and the support from University of Rijeka, which show, not only, the scientific activity of IJ but also his further development and the continuity. The foundation for a successful carrier was the MC grant, the support from the University (lab space and the equipment) and his limitless enthusiasm. IJs addition to the Department has bring an international expertise and research excellence, on which the Department and University builds its quality. Thus far, the laboratory has hosted more than 10 undergraduate students and enabled them to be involved in a competitive scientific work and trained for further academic career. Thus, taking together the MC grant has offered IJ development of his career, but also immensely contributed to our University.