Analysis and inhibition of chikungunya virus replication

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Inst of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus 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, which includes much of North America and Western Europe. CHIKV causes acute 'Dengue like' symptoms and chronic debilitating musculoskeletal pain. There is no vaccine or antiviral therapy. This project will use molecular virology and structural biology to investigate how RNA structures in the CHIKV genome control virus replication and design novel inhibitors to examine their potential as antiviral drug targets


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
1647899 Studentship BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 31/12/2019 Catherine Kendall
Description I have identified and characterised several replication elements in the genome of Chikungunya virus. The structure of the viral genome was previously unknown. Following the characterisation of structures in the CHIKV genome, I demonstrated their importance in viral replication in human and mosquito hosts. I am currently carrying out further work to determine which specific motifs or nucleotides are necessary for these structures to exert their effects. The paper is currently under review with NAR.
Exploitation Route Several findings from my research are being taken forward by other academics within our research group. For example, a potential higher-order structure and a putative alternative start codon within the same region from my project form the basis of two ongoing research projects headed by PhD and Masters students.
Sectors Healthcare