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Molecular Biology of Food Borne Viruses

Institutions
Institute of Food Research, UK
Start date
2000
End date
2003
Objective
This is a new project to apply molecular biological techniques to the characterisation of the disease process in food-borne viruses. The project aims to use heterologous expression of viral coat proteins to generate material with which to study interaction with target human cells.

The viral family Caliciviridae infects a wide range of host organisms. One of the four genera in this family, Norovirus, is a major cause of foodborne gastroenteritis in humans. Calicivirus genome evolution was examined and its phylogeny compared to that of its hosts. It was concluded that Caliciviruses have a recent evolutionary origin with frequent cross-species transfers being responsible for the observed co-phylogeny. The demographic growth of the Noroviruses was also examined and compared to human demography. It was concluded that Norovirus population growth occurred concomitant with large-scale human population movement.

Recombination is known to be a prevailing drive in shaping viral genome evolution but searching for evidence of recombination in Norovirus sequences required new computational tools. A novel software application was introduced for high-throughput analysis of recombination events (Etherington et al 2005 Bioinformatics 21(3):278-81. Epub 2004 Aug 27). Application to Norovirus sequences revealed evidence of hitherto unidentified recombinants implicated in the worldwide transmission of these viruses.

Funding Source
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Project number
4331219
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Prevention and Control