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How do RNA structures in the Chikungunya virus genome control virus replication in human and mosquito host cells?

Project Description

Chikungunya virus is a mosquito-transmitted arbovirus that re-emerged as an epidemic in 2005 around the Indian Ocean, before spreading across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It continues to spread across regions harbouring its mosquito vector - including much of North America and Western Europe. Chikungunya virus causes acute ‘Dengue or Zika like’ symptoms and chronic, debilitating musculoskeletal pain with neurological complications.
We recently published a study (Kendall et al., 2019 NAR) identifying novel structural elements within the RNA genome of Chikungunya virus. While the RNA structures are essential for efficient replication of the virus genome, evidence suggests that they are under different selection pressures in their human and mosquito host-cells. This project will use cutting edge molecular virology, genomics and structural methods to investigate mechanisms by which RNA structure in the Chikungunya virus genome functions in human and mosquito host cells.

There are no vaccines or antiviral therapies for Chikungunya virus. The longer-term goal of our research is to provide greater understanding of the virus replication cycle - in order to develop attenuated vaccines and novel antiviral targets. As part of the Tuplin group you will trained within an active cross-disciplinary research environment.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2020:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference and research funding

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.

EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency to receive full studentship

Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

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How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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