Listening to the HBV Orchestra: Unraveling Viral Interactions with Host Cells

Hi everyone! My name is Karolína and I am a PhD student from Prague. In our laboratory, we explore the interactions between hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV) with host cells. Our research employs two main approaches, which can be compared to listening to different aspects of an orchestra’s performance.

Approach 1: Hearing the Full Symphony

In our first approach, we analyze the overall response of infected human hepatocytes (in vitro) using techniques like transcriptomics and proteomics. This allows us to identify changes in gene expression and protein production caused by the viral infection.

Think of the human liver cell as an orchestra, with each instrument representing different proteins and genes. Our first approach is like listening to the entire orchestra perform. By doing so, we can detect how the infection disrupts the harmony, pinpointing which pathways are altered, and identifying which specific genes and proteins are involved in responding to the viral infection.

Some of the questions we hope to answer with this approach include:

  • What are the host cell’s responses to the infection?
  • How do these viruses manipulate host gene expression to facilitate their replication?
  • Which cellular proteins are involved in the detection of viral infection?

Approach 2: Spotlighting Solo Performers

In our second approach, we continue to listen to the orchestra, but this time, we focus on specific players. We zoom in on particular proteins to understand their individual contributions. Our goal is to identify key players and elucidate the roles they play in viral replication.

We use techniques like siRNA knockdown to alter the cellular levels of selected proteins. By doing so, we can test how these changes affect the viral replication cycle. This helps us determine the impact of specific proteins on the virus’s ability to replicate.

When we focus on specific proteins, we aim to answer questions like:

  • How does the difference in the level of certain proteins affect viral replication?
  • Which steps of the viral infectious cycle are affected?
  • Can we target these proteins to inhibit viral replication?

Thank you for your time and I am happy to answer questions!

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Interesting work Karolina!

John