Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Michael Reeves L&S Sciences

Delivery of a Gene Targeting Agent Against HCMV by Salmonella Vector in Human Cells

Human Cytomegalovirus Virus (HCMV) may go unnoticed in people with healthy immune systems; however, this opportunistic pathogen can be life threatening to immunodeficient individuals including AIDS patients, newborns, and transplant patients. Nucleic acid molecules such as ribozymes are promising gene – interfering agents. This enzymatic RNA accomplishes gene-interference by targeting and cleaving a specific region of mRNA e.g., viral mRNA. In my research I will take advantage of the ability of Salmonella bacteria to enter human cells and transfer genetic material to host cells, leading to efficient expression of the transferred genes. My goal is to use an attenuated strain of Salmonella bacteria as a carrier system to transfer the M1-GS ribozyme genes to HCMV-infected human cells in vitro. Successful delivery and expression of the M1-GS ribozyme gene in the cell will lead to cleavage of the viral mRNA coding for proteins that are essential for the HCMV virus to replicate. Therefore, significantly inhibiting the virus.

Message To Sponsor

I am truly honored for receiving the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. By providing me a unique opportunity to immerse myself and focus on full-time, goal-oriented independent research this fellowship will be an integral part of honing my laboratory skills in molecular biology and biochemistry. The experience I gain this summer will benefit me in graduate school and throughout my career. Furthermore, my research will take place in a rich network of mentors and dedicated studentsrelationships that are an inspiration for research ideas, refinement in thinking, and irreplaceable sources of feedback. I am thankful for the SURF fellowship.
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Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Fenyong Liu, School of Public Health
Sponsor: Pergo Fund
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