Modulation of type 1 diabetes development by rotavirus infection
Barbara’s group has linked rotavirus infection in children at risk of type 1 diabetes with faster diabetes development. A heightened response to the virus is implicated as a mechanism for this by their mouse model studies. They are determining if more rapid mouse diabetes due to rotavirus requires this heightened response, and if this response is also made by cells from diabetes patients after stimulation with rotavirus or other relevant viruses. These studies are vital to learn how viruses affect type 1 diabetes and devise interventions.
Cellular receptors used by rotaviruses for attachment and entry
Interaction of the rotavirus spike with cellular receptors including glycans (sugars) and integrins controls rotavirus entry into the cell. In collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Glycomics, Barbara’s group is identifying the cell surface sugars recognised by human rotaviruses, determining their roles in infection in relation to integrin usage, and characterising the binding sites on both receptor partners. Further understanding the process of their newly discovered rearrangement of the spike protein is being sought. They also aim to design, synthesise and evaluate small molecule and glycan subunit-based inhibitors that block host cell recognition by the spike protein of human rotaviruses.
University of Melbourne Associate Professor Barbara Coulson researches the mechanisms underlying the rotavirus disease process, and how virus infection may accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes. She is a world-leader in rotavirus research. She completed her PhD supervised by Ian Holmes, and her early postdoctoral research in collaboration with Ruth Bishop, the co-discoverers of human rotaviruses. She has been an National Health and Medical Research Council Research (NHMRC) Fellow since 1991, and is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Virology.