ESR 3 - Functions of EBV-encoded microRNAs in the viral life cycle and in EBV-associated diseases

University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands

 

 

Student: Hendrik de Buhr, M.Sc., Ph.D. fellow

Supervisor: Prof. Emmanuel J.H.J. Wiertz, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Co-supervisor: Assistant Prof. Robert Jan Lebbink, Ph.D.

 

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a herpesvirus that causes common infections in humans; more than 90% of the adult population is infected with the virus. Besides causing infectious mononucleosis (Pfeiffer's disease), EBV is an oncovirus responsible for ±200,000 new cancer cases per year, resulting in ±140,000 deaths annually. Upon infection via e.g. saliva transfer, EBV establishes a ‘resting’ infection in white blood cells (B lymphocytes) from where it can awaken (‘reactivate’) to generate new virus particles that can spread to other individuals.

EBV is a DNA virus with a relatively large genome, carrying ±70 protein-encoding genes. Besides these, EBV holds 25 microRNA (miRNA) genes that give rise to ±40 different mature miRNAs in an infected cell. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules that can regulate the expression of other genes from either the virus or the host cell. As such, viral miRNAs control many important steps during EBV infection, latency and reactivation in the host cell.

Although functions for several EBV miRNAs are known, the majority of the miRNA targets, and hence functions, remain elusive. This project focusses on the identification of EBV miRNA functions during infection, with an emphasis on miRNAs that act in oncogenesis and aid the virus to evade immune responses targeted towards virus-infected cells.

Our aim is to decipher the molecular and pathological mechanisms of EBV miRNAs and translate these findings into therapeutic or preventive options for EBV-associated diseases.

 

 


Contact details

Emmanuel J.H.J. Wiertz, Professor of Medical Microbiology / Experimental Virology

Department of Medical Microbiology

University Medical Center Utrecht

G04.647

Heidelberglaan 100

3584 CX Utrecht

The Netherlands

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Assistant Prof. Robert Jan Lebbink

Department of Medical Microbiology

University Medical Center Utrecht

G04.522

Heidelberglaan 100

3584 CX Utrecht

The Netherlands

Phone: +31 887 55 0627

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.