Cell & Molecular Biology Program Event
Mr. Chris Ziegler
University of Vermont
Z & Company: The Role of Cellular Proteins in the Function of the Arenavirus Matrix Protein Z
Tuesday March 12th, 2013
Arenaviruses are a family of negative-sense RNA viruses which can cause severe human disease ranging from aseptic meningitis to hemorrhagic fever syndromes. Arenaviruses have a very small genome, consisting of only 4 genes; accordingly they rely on interactions with host cell machinery to carry out their life cycle. A significant deficiency in our understanding of arenavirus biology is a lack of knowledge regarding host cellular proteins required for arenavirus replication. Identification of host proteins that are critical for the formation of infectious virions would advance our understanding of the basic biology of these highly pathogenic viruses and provide new targets for developing antiviral therapies.
The arenavirus Z protein is an 11 kDa matrix protein that is essential for viral assembly and budding. It is also a potent inhibitor of viral genome replication and transcription and can inhibit cellular translation. My dissertation studies focus on defining, via proteomics, the human cellular proteins that associate with Z during intracellular viral replication as well as in mature virions following release from the cell. Subsequently, to determine which interacting proteins serve a functional role in arenavirus replication, a subset of proteins identified in the proteomics studies will be characterized with RNA silencing in the context of viral replication. From these studies, we aim to identify essential host factors that could be targeted to combat arenavirus infection.