Graduate Students

Chelsea Spragg

Research Summary

"Characterizing the role of a novel transport factor in the life cycle of HIV-1"

Human immunodeficiency virus is dependent on many host cell factors for replication. These include transport factors that allow the virus to traverse the nuclear membrane by actively importing and exporting viral protein and RNA through the nuclear pore, conferring the ability to infect non-dividing cells.  I am studying the role of a particular transport factor in the life cycle of HIV-1.   When this transport factor is absent, wildtype virus is able to enter the cell and integrate its genome into host DNA, but it is unable to create virions that efficiently infect new cells.  I will use a series of assays to identify the defect in late stage replication, which could include the production of viral protein, assembly and budding at the cell membrane, or infection of a second round of cells.  I will also use virus that has evolved resistance as a tool to study the adaptations that allow the virus to use alternative transport strategies.  Transport factors involved in later stages of HIV-1 replication are not well understood. To date there are no antiretroviral therapies targeting determinants of intracellular transport, and a greater understanding of HIV pathogenicity in this respect may reveal such potential targets.