Virus-cell interactions in positive-strand virus infections
Principal investigator: Juana Díez
Viruses completely depend on the cellular machinery for expansion. The identification of crucial virus-cell interactions is thus essential to understand virus biology. In addition, these studies provide novel strategies for therapeutic interventions and uncover new host regulatory mechanisms of gene expression.
Positive-strand RNA ((+)RNA) viruses include major new and emerging human pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 and the mosquito-borne Dengue virus (DENV), Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Zika virus (ZIKV). Upon entry into the cell, a crucial first step in the life cycle of (+)RNA viruses is the translation of their genomes. How do they manage to efficiently compete with thousands of cellular mRNAs? How do they change the host translational environment to their benefit? Many (+) RNA viruses as SARS-CoV-2 or CHIKV are characterized by expressing their genomes at very high levels. However, their genomes are enriched in rare codons which should result into a poor translation efficiency. Recently, our laboratory has deciphered an explanation for this apparent contradiction by showing an unprecedented interaction between (+)RNA viruses and the host epitranscriptome. Our current interests aim to decipher this viral strategy and its exploitation across viral groups and hosts. For this, we combine cutting edge -omic analyses with cellular and molecular approaches.