P1.32EI Postgraduate project: Elena Virtue: Identification of virulence factors for Henipavirus infection
Hendra and Nipah viruses, members of the genes Henipavirus, cause lethal infection in human and animals. The exact mechanism of pathogenesis is not known for these newly emergent viruses. Henipaviruses are capable of making several proteins (SB, C, V and W) which are not essential for virus replication, but are believed to play a role in virulence or pathogenesis. Although preliminary analysis has been completed on some of these proteins in vitro using single genes, examination of their function in vivo was not possible due to the lack of a reverse genetics system which allows manipulation of individual genes. In this project, we will establish a reverse genetics system for Hendra virus to investigate the role of these viral protein products in virulence/pathogenesis, host range and tissue tropism. We will also examine the potential differences in functionality of these proteins in different hosts, especially bats (natural reservoir host) versus other susceptible hosts (such as cats or ferrets).