Unravelling the molecular basis for defective interfering particles in arenaviruses

FUNDING: 10 weeks (full time, 37 hrs per week, £12 per hour, £850 consumables, £500 student accommodation bursary)
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Nicholas Smith, Biology, Leeds

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Many virus families, including arenaviruses, restrict their own growth through viral interference which is driven by the production of defective viral genomes (DVGs). Unlike most viral DVGs, arenavirus DVGs possess small modifications to untranslated regions of the genome, however the exact mechanism of interference remains to be elucidated. Understanding how these modifications play a role in infection may enable viral interference to be exploited for new technologies, such as in vaccine development. We are looking for a student to work with our thriving research community in Dr Juan Fontana’s lab to complete a lab-based research project and establish methods to investigate the viral interference of arenaviruses. The project will primarily involve generating DVGs for the prototypical arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, identifying DVGs using PCR approaches and quantifying viral interference. This will allow the chosen student to gain experience in techniques including cell culture, virology, PCR, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Assistance and training will be provided, however the candidate once trained will have the opportunity to work independently. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2024.