BIOE Seminar: Molecular Biomimicry by the SARS-CoV-2 Virus

Friday, October 29, 2021
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Gregg Duncan

Dr. Gerard C. L. Wong
Bioengineering Department, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department,
California NanoSystems Institute, UCLA

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Molecular biomimicry by the SARS-CoV-2 virus: consequences for severe inflammation, coagulation, and dysregulation of antiviral responses

The two most salient features of COVID-19 are its high infectivity, and its lethality for a significant human subpopulation. The lethal pathologies include 1) amplified forms of inflammation (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), cytokine storms, septic shock) and 2) dysregulated forms of coagulation (severe blood clots that lead to cardiac events, multi system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)). At present, it is not clear how these outcomes are induced. By combining machine learning, synchrotron structural studies, computer simulations, in vitro cell based experiments, in vivo mouse experiments, and analysis of human COVID patient samples, we show how immune processing of SARS-CoV-2 can potentially precipitate these outcomes, via a novel form of biomimicry that results in grossly distorted immune responses, coagulation pathologies, and suppression of type I interferon-based antiviral defenses, whereas that of other non-pandemic coronaviruses cannot.

About the Speaker
Dr. Gerard C. L. Wong is a Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Department of Chemistry at UCLA.  Wong received his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics at Caltech and Berkeley.  He joined the Materials Science Department and Physics Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000 and was recruited to UCLA in 2009. His research recognition includes a Beckman Young Investigator Award and an Alfred P Sloan Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.  

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