Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jasper Murphy L&S Sciences

CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knockout of the tax region of bovine leukemia virus in cell culture

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a retrovirus that is present in 84% of dairy and 38% of beef cattle in the USA [Buehring]. Even more threatening is the discovery that humans are also infected with BLV and the frequency of BLV DNA in mammary epithelium from women with breast cancer (59%) was significantly higher than in normal controls (29%) [Buehring]. This association of BLV with breast cancer motivates research toward generating a treatment. In my research project, I will attempt to knock out the essential tax region of the BLV genome in infected fetal lamb kidney (FLK) cells using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. I hypothesize that this will prevent viral DNA replication without affecting the health of the host cells. Multiple attempts to develop a vaccine for bovine leukemia virus have not been successful because extracellular virus particles are not produced. A successful CRISPR knockout of the tax gene could open the doors to developing an antiviral therapy for infected humans and cattle.

Message To Sponsor

The SURF funds allowed me to design and purchase the necessary materials for a completely independent research project. This is something that I never would have been able to do on my own, as my lab does not have very much money, and I would not be able to use personal money for unfunded research. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to pursue my goals as a scientist.
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Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Dr. Gertrude Buehring
Sponsor: Pease Fund
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