Evan Juan

Investigating the role of dengue virus nonstructural protein 1-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation in dengue pathogenesis

With an estimated 105 million infections globally, dengue virus (DENV), the causative agent of dengue fever, places a severe burden upon global public health. Severe manifestations of dengue fever are characterized by leak of plasma from the vascular system; these symptoms can develop into hypovolemic shock and organ failure if left untreated. The Harris laboratory and others have discovered that DENV non-structural protein 1 (NS1) is critical to dengue pathogenesis and can directly trigger vascular leak. The exact mechanism of NS1-induced vascular leak is still unknown, but recent work has shown that the DENV NS1 can activate inflammasomes, an innate immune sensor within cells. Inflammasome activation causes the release of inflammatory mediators which can lead to the disruption of the endothelium. However, it is currently unknown how NS1 activates the inflammasome. My project will focus on investigating this mechanism and its importance in causing vascular leak. Thus, I aim to investigate the genetic and molecular determinants governing NS1-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation. The discoveries from this work may reveal potential therapeutics for the treatment of severe dengue.

Message to Sponsor

I am deeply grateful and humbled for this opportunity to conduct research over the summer. I hope to utilize this experience to further my interest in immunology and develop my understanding of biology research. Indeed, the time that I spend over the summer in the lab will be critical in shaping my senior thesis as well as providing me an opportunity to hone my skills, particularly those of research techniques and communication.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Immunology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Eva Harris