Mohsan Saeed, PhD

Mohsan Saeed, PhD

Trustees of Boston University

Research Project:
Deciphering the Determinants of Coronaviral Tissue Tropism

Grant Awarded:

  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Research Topic:

  • basic biologic mechanisms

Research Diseases:

  • COVID-19
  • respiratory synctial virus

While some coronaviruses infect lung cells, others establish infection in the upper respiratory tract. This difference affects the outcome of coronavirus infections, efficiency of viral transmission, and design of disease management strategies. Yet, the molecular mechanisms that define the preference of coronaviruses for particular cell types are unknown. Our pilot studies showed that in contrast to all other SARS-CoV-2 variants that mainly infect the lungs, the recently identified Omicron variant gravitates to the upper respiratory tract. We also discovered that this change is driven by the Omicron spike protein. We will employ a suite of molecular virology approaches and cellular and animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection to investigate the details of how Omicron targets the upper respiratory tract. The concepts generated in these studies can be applied to future SARS-CoV-2 variants and other coronaviruses.

Page last updated: October 3, 2023

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