Uncovering the roles of dynamic RNA interactions during assembly and assortment of multi-segmented viral genomes

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr Alexander Borodavka

    Imperial College London

Project summary

Rotaviruses are highly contagious viruses that infect children, causing more than 200,000 deaths worldwide each year, mostly in low-income countries. It is essential to understand the molecular make up of rotaviruses if we are to develop new treatments to fight them. A single infectious rotavirus particle contains 11 unique RNA segments used to store its genetic material, serving as a multi-page instruction manual for building new viruses. It is a mystery how rotaviruses select and package the distinct segments, ensuring that each newly built virus has a complete set of instructions for infecting cells.

I will use a combination of sensitive microscopy and molecular biology tools to crack the code of how rotaviruses select and package a complete set of their RNA segments. 

Understanding the mechanism of segment counting will help us design improved vaccines that offer greater protection against rotaviruses and identify new targets for developing antiviral drugs.