Influenza - innate immune responses, pathogenesis and vaccine development

Green: influenza A virus nucleoprotein; Red: interferon regulatory factor 3; Blue: cell nucleus (DAPI)

Project Team: Yan Zhou, Shelby Landreth, Yao Lu, Kannu-Priya Pandey, Xingui Tian

Influenza A viruses, including highly pathogenic influenza viruses (requiring containment level 3), continue to pose a severe threat worldwide. The main difficulty in defending against influenza virus infection is the high genetic variability of the virus. This results in the rapid generation of reassortant viruses that either gain resistance to antiviral agents or escape immunity against previous strains.

Our research is focused on influenza virus-host interactions in order to determine novel targets for antiviral and vaccine development. This includes genetically altering influenza viruses by reverse genetic technology to study how viral genes and gene products activate innate immune sensors including RIG-I and inflammasome and how the innate immune responses regulate virus propagation and pathogenesis.

We also study influenza virus host adaptation, highly pathogenic avian influenza pathogenesis in animal models, develop and test new vaccines for pandemic influenza.