Jamie Casswell

Institute of Integrative Biology Biosciences Building University of Liverpool Crown Street Liverpool L69 7ZB


Dr Bahram Ebrahimi

Prior to my PhD I undertook my Undergraduate degree (Molecular Biology) and MRes (Biological Sciences) at the University of Manchester. The MRes involved two projects investigating the immune response in type 1 diabetes using a streptozotocin mouse model and neuron axonal branching in transgenic Xenopus tropicalis.

I built on my previous experiences in molecular biology and my interest in virology when choosing my PhD project. I am interested in investigating how pathogenic viruses evade the host innate immune responses at the molecular level, for example, by inhibiting the production of host cell proteins. This can be achieved through an inhibition of a number of processes namely transcription, mRNA export, mRNA decay and translation.

Project title: Comparative inhibition of host cell anti-viral response by murine γ-herpesvirus-68 and semliki forest virus

My MRes project focused on investigating the mechanisms by which murine γ-herpesvirus-68 (a dsDNA herpes virus) may mediate host shutoff of transcripts (mainly cellular mRNA). My PhD project will use the knowledge gained during the MRes to investigate mRNA degradation in cells infected with the prototypic alphavirus semliki forest virus. Alphaviruses inhibit the host cell anti-viral response. Alphaviruses are vector-borne viruses which cause disease in animals and can be passed on to humans. The exact mechanisms by which these viruses achieve this are likely to differ. In particular, I will be assessing the export and abundance of host mRNA and proteins after infection using a range of techniques including tissue culture and virological techniques, e.g. infection of cells, fluorescent confocal imaging, radioactive pulse labelling, RT-PCR and northern blot analysis.

It is hoped that the work carried out will give valuable insight into how pathogenic viruses cause disease in their respective hosts at the molecular level leading to the design of novel therapeutics.

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