Reversible ADP-ribosylation signaling in the control of coronavirus infection


  • Dr Ivan Ahel

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  • Dr Michael Nielsen

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Dr Sumana Sanyal

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Project summary

Coronaviruses have been responsible for worldwide outbreaks of SARS, MERS and, most recently the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2. The body is defended from infections, viral and otherwise, by the immune system. During an antiviral immune response, enzymes called PARPs transfer small chemical groups onto proteins, altering their function. These changes help to stop viral growth and prevent an infection. Typically, this includes the activation of the interferon response, which signals the location of an infection and prevents it from spreading to surrounding areas of the body. However, viruses have evolved tools to escape our immune responses; coronaviruses use an enzyme called macrodomain to oppose the antiviral PARPs. This project aims to identify exactly how PARPs helps to prevent infection, as well as how coronavirus subverts these defences. Understanding these processes will help develop new tools and strategies to prevent spread of infection and future outbreaks.