Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Alex Flynt, Ph.D

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Flaviviruses are positive, single-stranded, enveloped RNA viruses that are a part of the family, Flaviviridae. West Nile virus, Dengue, Zika virus and more are a part of this family. Mosquitoes are the vectors for these viruses. In order for the virus to infect mosquitoes, it must evade the RNA interference (RNAi), which is the major antiviral immune mechanism of insects. One study found the 3’ untranslated region (UTR) of the West Nile virus that inhibited the RNAi (GP et al. 2016). The goal of this study is to investigate if the 3’ and 5’ UTR region of the Zika virus (ZIKV) inhibits the RNAi as well. Computational approaches were used to look at changes in short interfering (siRNA) expression in animals followed by infection with Zika, which revealed inhibition by the virus. UTR sequences from Zika virus were cloned and tested for suppression of RNAi in Drosophila S2 cells. Suppression of siRNA production was not observed through northern blotting experiments. This research concluded that the 3’ and 5’ UTR of Zika virus do not play a part in inhibiting the RNAi. The computational data though, supported that Zika virus does inhibit RNAi, suggesting that a mechanism is a work that is divergent from other flaviviruses.

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