The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Jaakko Saraste

Getting to know an old "enemy": The life cycle of coronavirus

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Jaakko Saraste
Department of Biomedicine and Molecular Imaging Center, University of Bergen

When present outside of cells viruses are metabolically inert, but upon entering their host cells can hijack, or take over, basic cellular functions, thereby gaining the ability to replicate their genomes and produce new virus particles. This seminar gives an introduction to the life cycle of coronavirus (CoV), the causative agent of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on how this membrane virus enters and exits its host cells, ensuring safe replication of its RNA genome in the process. These events are known to be intimately connected to endosomes and the intermediate compartment (IC) – dynamic membrane systems that operate in endocytic and pre-Golgi secretory trafficking in the cell. However, the late steps of CoV replication – virus assembly in the IC and release to the extracellular space – remain enigmatic, partly hampering the development of therapies that could specifically interfere with the multiplication of novel CoV strains that now are causing severe and readily transmissible disease in humans. Some experimental plans to obtain more detailed information of these steps are discussed.

Chairperson: Nils Halberg, Department of Biomedicine