The nidovirus order contains a range of important virus families that cause both large economic impacts on farming industries and impact human health. The newly formed Nidovirus-cell interactions group, led by institute fellow Dr Helena Maier, studies molecular interactions between nidoviruses and the host cell, using a comparative approach to identify conserved interactions among the related virus families.
The overall aim of the group is to identify critical virus-host cell interactions that are conserved among nidoviruses, ultimately allowing for development of novel approaches to vaccine attenuation or development of pan-antiviral therapeutics. Our work currently focusses on understanding cellular replication of avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) as a model nidovirus. The group has a particular focus on characterising IBV replication organelles, understanding the process of viral envelopment and identifying cellular proteins that are important for virus replication.
- Understanding the role of cellular Akt signalling in IBV replication in both mammalian and avian cells (PhD project, Ambalika Batra – joint student with Genetics and Genomics group)
- Understanding the role of IBV accessory proteins, cellular interaction partners and their mechanism of action (PhD project, Ross Hall)
- Characterising IBV replication organelles (Undergraduate project, Selma Rayon)
- Identifying the site of IBV RNA synthesis and viral and cellular proteins required for replication organelle formation (BBSRC funded project, post-doc to be appointed)
Other research in the group includes identifying cellular proteins required for virus envelopment and studying the role of virus associated dsRNA during IBV replication, including evasion of innate immune responses. Future work will incorporate comparison of IBV with other nidoviruses such as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus and Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome Virus.
Nidoviruses are important disease causing viruses, with infectious bronchitis virus in particular causing large economic losses to the UK poultry industry. There is also threat of invasion by pathogenic porcine nidoviruses into the UK. In addition, nidoviruses are an increasing threat to human health with novel viruses emerging over the last 15 years. We are studying critical virus-cell interactions required by nidoviruses to facilitate replication. Understanding how viruses interact with the host cell provides the information required for design of novel vaccine development and pan-antiviral treatment approaches. These tools would allow better viral control, limiting economic losses, and provide preparedness for novel disease outbreaks.