Using new gene editing tools, UChicago researchers have identified key genes that play a role in whether the flu virus can infiltrate a lung cell. For their study, which was published in the April 10, 2018 issue of Cell Reports, Julianna Han and Balaji Manicassamy, PhD, used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools to create a library of cells, each missing a different gene. They then exposed each of these cells to the H5N1 flu virus. After selecting for cells that survived the exposure, they partnered with the CRI Bionformatics Core to analyze which genes could have played a role in the cells’ resistance. This analysis identified two key genes involved in the H5N1 response.
Through research like this, scientists are developing a better understanding of what proteins and pathways play a role in flu infections, which should help with the development of the next wave of targeted antiviral treatments. The CRI’s Yan Li, PhD, and Jorge Andrade, PhD, were co-authors on this study.