Marta Maria Gaglia, Ph.D.

Marta Maria Gaglia, Ph.D.

Institution: Trustees of Tufts College (Tufts University)

Project: Control of innate immune responses by SARS-CoV-2

Grant(s): COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, has spread quickly throughout the globe, infecting millions of people and killing more than 350,000 within a few months. The most severe and deadly COVID-19 cases are associated with a hyperactive and uncontrolled immune response. Both the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the immune complications of COVID-19 are likely linked to the ability of the virus to manipulate and evade our immune responses. However, at present we do not know how SARS-CoV-2 controls our immune system. We propose to comprehensively identify and characterize the SARS-CoV-2 factors responsible for immune evasion. We will use information about the related SARS coronavirus to focus on a set of candidate viral proteins and determine the consequences of inactivating SARS-CoV-2 proteins on immune signals. Understanding which SARS-CoV-2 factors are involved in immune evasion will enable us to better treat COVID-19 and restrict transmission.

Update:We have identified five proteins that have effects on the induction of the first cellular response to infection, in the context of a lung cell line. These include both proteins with other reported functions in the coronavirus replication cycle, and ones with no other apparent functions. We have established key reagents to study their effects in lung cell lines, as well as the SARS coronavirus 2 replication system in our laboratories. We are now working to inactivate these proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 genome to study their role during viral infection.

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