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Preventing the Next Pandemic

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Examining Conserved Mechanisms of (+)RNA Virus Replication

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Project Description:

As shown by the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, emerging infectious diseases pose a serious threat to human existence. Viruses with RNA genomes (e.g., SARS-CoV2) compose one-third of all emerging infectious diseases. Thus, there is an urgent need to understand conserved RNA virus replication strategies. The long-term goal of the Kopek lab is to identify the common replication strategies of RNA viruses. Viruses with positive-strand RNA [(+)RNA)] genomes represent the majority of human, animal, and plant viral pathogens. One common replication feature of (+)RNA viruses is that they all replicate their RNA genome in association with host intracellular membranes. At these membranes, the (+)RNA viruses form virus replication complexes where they replicate their RNA genome. Recent work has shown the involvement of cellular lipid synthesis pathways and specific lipid requirements in viral genome replication for many (+)RNA viruses, in agreement with the fact that lipids are major components of membranes. Despite the considerable importance of membrane-associated genome replication, many questions remain, including the role of lipids in replication complex structure and formation and how viruses manipulate the lipid biosynthetic pathways. The proposed research is expected to clarify the role of specific lipids and identify how the (+)RNA virus, Flock House virus, manipulates cellular lipid synthesis pathways. This basic research is significant because it may have broader impacts on the development of viral control strategies.

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