Researching Effects of HSV-1 on Waste Clearance in the Brain
The Research Problem
Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1), is a prevalent viral agent infecting 50 to 80% of U.S. adults. This double-stranded DNA virus causes oral herpes, however, HSV-1 can travel from its initial oral infection to the Central Nervous System (CNS) where it remains in a dormant state and is occasionally reactivated. Due to its presence in the brain, the impacts of HSV-1 on the brain have been studied and have been found to correlate with a decrease in aquaporin-4 (AQP4) a protein in the astrocytic glial cells that regulates fluid through the brain to form the glymphatic system. This recently discovered waste clearance system in the brain flushes fluid in between blood vessels and eliminates natural waste, such as β-amyloid plaques, in the CNS.
Malfunctions in the glymphatic system, resulting from disruptions in its AQP4 protein machinery, can cause abnormally high accumulation levels of the β-amyloid protein and subsequently increase chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease (AD), a devastating disease that affects 5.4 million Americans and has no known cure. The potentially devastating consequences associated with the glymphatic system contribute to the need for its malfunctions to be more indepthly researched.
As part of the Gemstone Honors Research Program, our interdisciplinary team is investigating how HSV-1 infection in astrocytic glial cells damages the function of the AQP4 protein specifically through its impact on a critical sub-protein of AQP4. We propose three main aims in our project to characterize the effect HSV-1 has on the AQP4 proteins by looking at whether it decreases the amount of the M23 sub protein of AQP4, what structural changes the viral infection produces, and whether the disruption AQP4 proteins can be modeling using computing technology.
As a Gemstone team our main methods of obtaining resources is through grant applications and crowdfunding and as our experimentation progresses, our need for critical lab supplies also grows. Through this LaunchUMD campaign, interested donors such as yourself can support our research endeavors by making a tax-deductible donation. Every contribution significantly increases our chances of getting necessary supplies and obtaining meaningful results. If you can't make a contribution, please spread the word about our cause with your friends and family!
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