Image: Professor Gilda Tachedjian, Head of Life Sciences, Head Tachedjian Laboratory
Bats are a major reservoir of viruses such as Hendra virus and Ebola virus that are pathogenic in humans but not in bats.
The reason bats can coexist with these viral pathogens is unknown.
However, one explanation is that the coevolution of bats and their viruses have led them to an effective ‘peace treaty’, a biological equilibrium in which viral replication is regulated such that both host and virus can co-exist without undue antagonism.
The role of the host’s immune system is to control infections, and intrinsic intracellular restriction factors are the front line of the innate immune response that target viruses.
These factors have been discovered to restrict retroviruses such as HIV however, some of these factors, for example tetherin, can also restrict paramyxoviruses, coronaviruses and filoviruses.
We are currently characterising the intracellular restriction factor repertoire of megabats and microbats by mining their genomes and transcriptomes, validating the expression of these factors in bat tissues and evaluating their inhibitory activity against viral pathogens.
This study will focus on characterising a class of restriction factor found in megabats and microbats, their antiviral activity and mechanism of action compared to human homologues.
This is a joint project between the Tachedjian Lab and CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.