Research Project: Alternative Splicing in Human Lung Cells During Influenza A Virus Infection
COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award
basic biologic mechanisms
gene expression transcription
Influenza A viruses are continually re-emerging respiratory viruses that burden health care systems due to yearly epidemics and occasional pandemics. Although there are current antiviral therapies and vaccines used to treat or prevent infection, a better understanding of how the virus interacts with cellular factors is needed to develop new and more effective treatment and prevention. Upon lung cell infection, influenza viruses trigger fluctuations in the levels of gene expression (the process by which the information encoded in a gene is turned into a function) of many genes in airway cells. Some of these genes are expressed to thwart viral infection, but some have been co-opted by viruses to be beneficial. One way the expression of genes is changed is through the process called alternative mRNA splicing, whereby a single gene can be expressed as multiple variants with distinct functions. We will use new technology to learn how genes are spliced during infection, and will uncover pro-viral and anti-viral genes unleashed by alternative splicing. Understanding this process will establish a new front in the battle against influenza virus and other respiratory pathogens.