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Molecular Virology & Microbiology - Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology
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Project: IgA, Rotavirus Infection, and the Commensal Microbiota

University Association: Baylor College of Medicine
Collaborator Name: Margaret E. Conner, Ph.D.

The intestinal microbiota is responsible for many vital host functions, including maturation of the intestinal immune system and IgA induction. The structure of the microbiota is impacted by many factors including host genetics, environmental factors, and pathogenic infections. In the gastrointestinal tract, IgA maintains homeostasis with microbiota and is important in protection from pathogenic infections.

One of the important unexplored questions is whether the microbiota is essential for the induction of pathogen-specific IgA. To examine this question, we will utilize a rotavirus mouse model in which intestinal virus-specific IgA is the critical protective moiety. We will determine whether the microbiota structure is altered by rotavirus infection using 454 sequencing. Antibiotic treatment will be used to determine the importance of the microbiota in the generation of virus-specific IgA. This work will assess microbiota-mediated induction of pathogen-specific IgA and will be applicable to improving or developing efficacious mucosal vaccines, therapeutics and probiotics.