Aarhus University, Denmark
Student: Samuel J. Windross, Ph.D. student
Supervisor: Prof. Søren Riis Paludan, Ph.D.
Herpesviruses are a family of viruses, which frequently infect humans. Herpesvirus infections are widespread within different populations. Generally, Herpesviruses are responsible for non-serious disease, with Varicella Zoster (VSV) and Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV-1) often-causing ailments such as chicken pox and cold sores, which often resolve without permanent damage. However, congenital Herpesvirus infections and infections in individuals with genetic defaults/who are immune suppressed, frequently result in very serious clinical complications.
Inside infected cells, the genome of the virus is recognized. A special protein, called cGAS, senses the DNA and passes on this information to a signaling protein called STING. STING then changes the cellular program to make it produce molecules called interferons (IFNs), which are responsible for warning the surrounding cells of the virus.
Photo Credit: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2014.03.040
The production of Type 1 Interferon is responsible for the upregulation of interferon stimulated genes (ISGs). Type 1 IFN is a crucial component in controlling HSV-1 infections, and due to its potent nature, production of it by cells must coincide with a purpose. Since the cGAS-STING pathway is responsible for mediating to the production of type 1 IFN, we are interested in how the action of STING is regulated by the cell (?) and what effect this has on the response to the virus.
My current work examines the early stages of the innate immune response to DNA viruses such as HSV-1, with a strong focus on how the cGAS-STING pathway is involved. The cGAS-STING pathway comprises a collection of sensing and signaling proteins responsible for the detection of foreign DNA in the cytoplasm of the cell, and which consequently initiate a type 1 IFN response. This IFN response allows the infected cell and nearby cells to upregulate protective proteins and to activate the adaptive immune response. We are interested how one of these proteins, STING, is regulated, and how this regulation could influence the innate immune response.
Søren Riis Paludan, Professor
Department of Biomedicine