Samar Bhat

Understanding IRES RNA-mediated mechanisms for controlling Hepatitis C Virus Translation

Under conditions of cellular stress, such as in times of starvation, infection, or exposure to potentially dangerous environmental agents, normal cellular processes are often compromised. One such process involves how the 5-cap structures of mRNA are used to recruit ribosomes, the cells translation machinery, to initiate protein synthesis. When this process is compromised, mRNAs use an element on their structure called Internal Ribosomal Entry Sites (IRES) to recruit ribosomes and initiate protein synthesis. Furthermore, it is believed that IRESs may initiate translation by interacting with the cells translation initiation factors, eIFs. Due to their unique ability to circumvent the cells regulation of translation, IRESs have been associated with tumorigenesis, as they may allow damaged cells, which could turn cancerous, to live by permitting them to continue synthesizing proteins necessary for growth and survival. To further elucidate how cellular IRESs may interact with eIFs to initiate translation, we plan on using RNA interference to target various mouse eIF genes to test the in vivo effects of eIF genes on cells infected with IRESs derived from the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

Message to Sponsor

Dear Rose Hills Foundation, This summer has been a truly transformative experience. Thanks to your generosity, I was able to dedicate an unprecedented period of uninterrupted, focused time to a project I had been begun to work on one year prior. In the past, I had never been able to explore the true depth of certain questions to my own satisfaction and traverse the vast breadth of knowledge related to my chosen field of study with as much focus as I was able to do this summer. In addition, I was able to take my curiosities abroad to Germany, where I got to meet and work with some of the most brilliant and passionate people from around the world. Overall, I came out of this summer with a better understanding not only for my field and my project, but for the complexities yet to be studied, and for the opportunities I would have as a scientist to delve into these questions during my career. Once again, I thank you for this experience and would most certainly repeat it and encourage my peers to apply to the program. Thank You, Samar Bhat
  • Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Chun-Hao Huang