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AG Viejo-Borbolla

Abel Viejo-Borbolla is, since April 2014, a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant Fellow. This fellowship has facilitated his integration in the local, regional and national scientific community and has fostered the generation of several relevant collaborations at the national and international level. Within the framework of his Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, entitled “INMA” (Immune and neuromodulation mediated by alphaherpesviruses) the laboratory investigates the mechanisms used by the three human alphaherpesviruses, HSV-1, HSV-2 and VZV to modulate elements of the immune and nervous system.

 

Immune and neuromodulation mediated by alphaherpesviruses

 

There are three human alphaherpesviruses discovered today: herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively) and varicella zoster virus (VZV). The three are highly prevalent, neurotropic viruses that establish latency in neurons of the peripheral and autonomic nervous system. Infection of the central nervous system is rare, although with devastating consequences. The outcome of the infection is diverse and is dependent on many virus-host interactions

 

 

Research summary

 

There are three human alphaherpesviruses discovered today: herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively) and varicella zoster virus (VZV). The three are highly prevalent, neurotropic viruses that establish latency in neurons of the peripheral nervous system. Infection of the central nervous system is rare, although with devastating consequences. The outcome of the infection is diverse and is dependent on many virus-host interactions.
Our group is interested in understanding how these viruses modulate the immune and nervous systems to facilitate infection and colonization of neurons and to cause disease. To reach this main aim we employ an array of biochemical and molecular biology techniques to discover novel interactions between viral and host proteins. Following the identification of these interactions we validate the results performing functional assays in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo. To address the role of the viral proteins during infection we mutate the target genes using the bacterial artificial chromosome technology. Since these viruses infect humans we have derived human neurons from inducible pluripotent stem cell lines. With these neurons we are establishing a latency model and investigating how HSV and VZV modulate neuronal activity and induce pain. Our research will provide relevant information regarding the strategies of immune and neuromodulation employed by the human alphaherpesviruses. These findings will foster the development of novel antivirals and will enhance the knowledge on the functioning of the immune and nervous system.