Mathis Funk from the Viroscience Department received a NOW-XS grant for his research about ‘Unveiling a new mechanism underlying the rapid evolution of Influenza viruses’. What is this research all about?
Previous work from our group has shown that some influenza indel hotspots occur in the loop of predicted RNA stem-loop structures. In this project, I will study the role of these local RNA structures in indel-generation using a virus-free influenza RdRp replication system combined with a customized Circular Sequencing Next-generation Sequencing approach. This will allow me to eschew viral fitness biases and sequence each RNA molecule several times to detect even ultra-low frequency indels accurately. By comparing the indel profile and propensity of different RNA structure and sequences, I will be able to unveil the mechanism underlying indel-generation at influenza indel hotspots and improve our knowledge on how influenza viruses evolve.
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