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Virus trafficking through midgut cells of insect hosts and vectors

Many viruses enter their insect hosts by the oral route and must cross the gut epithelium, a barrier that prevents access to the hemocoel and other tissues. Because the mechanisms of viral transit through insect gut cells are poorly understood, our project focuses on fundamental aspects of this important topic. Our current studies aim to identify and understand molecular mechanisms of viral protein transit within insect cells, specifically in the polarized epithelial cells of the insect midgut. We use a large variety of tools and approaches to understand viral protein trafficking in the insect midgut, including: high throughput cell culture based RNAi screens (for identification of host pathways and proteins required for viral protein trafficking), transgenic Drosophila (for in vivo studies of viral signals and host factors involved in midgut trafficking of viral proteins), recombinant baculoviruses (for in vivo analysis of natural infections, and for transduction studies in mosquitoes). Our studies incorporate a combination of approaches, including virology, genetics, molecular and cell biology, transcriptomics, proteomics, and we readily adopt new approaches and technologies. We are interested in recruiting post-doctoral candidates that are interactive and motivated self-starters, with interests in exploring this fascinating area of research and utilizing the most powerful approaches available as well as developing new approaches to difficult experimental questions.