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RNA regulation during viral infection

Objective

Viral infections are responsible for significant morbidity and mortality and frequency and impact of epidemics are expected to increase. Thorough understanding of basic virology is critical for informed development of prevention and control. Most systematic studies of virus-host interactions have focused on proteins, however, with recent methodological advances the intersecting fields of viral infection and RNA biology hold great promise for basic and therapeutic exploration. The goal of this application therefore is to discover and dissect RNA-based virus-host interactions and related regulatory mechanisms of gene expression.
Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) fine-tune gene expression by repressing mRNA targets. However, cellular miRNAs increase translation and replication of certain viruses. Thus, hepatitis C virus (HCV) critically depends on the liver specific miR-122, which emerged as a therapeutic target. Further, HCV sequesters enough miR-122 to indirectly regulate cellular gene expression. I hypothesize that this RNA-based mechanism contributes to virus induced liver cancer, and aim to address this using our recently developed rodent model for HCV infection (Aim 1). Better understanding of viral RNA (vRNA) interactions could significantly contribute to basic infection biology and novel therapeutics. I therefore aim to systematically identify vRNA interactions with other cellular RNAs and proteins (Aim 2). I expect to identify interactions of value for functional regulation and therapeutic targeting. I finally hypothesize that translation of certain cellular mRNAs – similarly to viruses – increase upon miRNA binding, and aim to systematically screen for such virus-like alternative regulation, with potential to change understanding of post-transcriptional regulation (Aim 3).
In conclusion, this high-risk high-gain project has potential to shape novel dogmas for virus and RNA biology and to identify novel RNA-based therapeutic targets; a promising upcoming field of discovery.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/rna
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/virology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
  • /social sciences/sociology/demography/mortality
  • /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/oncology/cancer
  • /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/oncology/cancer/liver cancer

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Address
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Denmark
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 500 000

Beneficiaries (1)

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Denmark
EU contribution
€ 1 500 000
Address
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments