Dr Andrii Slonchak

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
a.slonchak@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53302

Overview

I obtained my PhD in molecular biology at the Laboratory of Systems Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. During PhD I was investigating cell-specific mechanisms responsible for transcriptional regulation of the human gene encoding for phase II detoxification enzyme glutathione S-transferase P1 in normal and cancer cells. When working on this project I acquired an interest in the role of noncoding RNAs in regulation of gene expression, which I further developed by joining the RNA virology lab at University of Queensland to study the role of noncoding RNAs in flavivirus-host interactions under supervision of Prof. Alexander Khromykh.

My current research into the role of noncoding RNAs in flavivirus infection involves a combination of molecular, biochemical and computational techniques. My research includes studying the role of host miRNAs in response to flavivirus infection, identifying the functions of virus-derived long noncoding RNA (subgenomic flaviviral RNA, sfRNA) in viral replication and inhibition of the host immune pathways and determining the mechanisms of sfRNA biogenesis in insect-specific flaviviruses. In my research I make an extensive use of high-throughput technologies such as RNA-seq followed by reconstruction of gene interaction networks and computational modeling of signaling pathways.

Research Interests

  • Functions of subgeneric flaiviral RNA
    All flviviruses produce abundant noncoding RNA known as subgeneric flaviviral RNA. Alexander Khromykh's group was the first to discover that flaviviruses protect their 3’UTR from degradation by the cellular exoribonuclease-1 (Xrn1) by encoding Xrn1-resistant RNA structure, which results in Xrn1 stalling and accumulation of abundant viral ncRNA termed sfRNA. It was demonstrated that sfRNA modulates the fundamental cellular processes of RNA decay and antiviral response that contribute to viral pathogenicity. In my research I work to advance our knowledge on thi flaviviral ncRNAs by identifying host pathways affected by sfRNA, determining interacting partners for sfRNA in vitro and in vivo and the role of theses interactions in modulation of host response to WNV and other flaviviruses.
  • Systems biology of flavivirus infection
    The technological advances made in recent years allows studying virus-host interactions not only at the level of individual genes or pathways, but also at the systems level. I have a strong interest in using high-throughput transcriptomics and proteomics in combination with advanced bioinformatics analysis and computational modelling of genetic interactions to understand global changes in cellular processes associated with flavivirus infection
  • Role of miRNAs in flavivirus-host interactions and antiviral response
    miRNAs are small (20-25 nts) RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to the 3’ UTRs of mRNAs and inhibiting their translation. The role of miRNAs in influencing infection with various viruses has been well documented including studies with flaviviruses. In my research i intend to identify cellular processes regulated by miRNAs in flavivirus-infected cells and determine the role this regulation plays in controlling flavivirus infection. These issues are of fundamental importance; their elucidation will significantly advance our understanding of miRNA-regulated processes involved in response to flavivirus infection and illuminate new avenues for the design of vaccines and antiviral therapies.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, National Academy of Science of Ukraine

Publications

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Available Projects

  • This project aims to understand biogenesis and functions of viral noncoding RNA (sfRNA) produced by insect specific flaviviruses (ISFs). Flaviviruses is a large group of positive strand RNA viruses, which includes important human pathogens such as Dengue, Zika and West Nile virus. ISFs is a subgroup of flaviviruses that can only replicate in mosquito host and are not capable of propagation in vertebrates. They have recently attracted significant attention due to their potential use as a backbone for development of the vaccines against pathogenic flaviviruses. Flaviviruses have evolved to subvert host mRNA decay pathway to generate a functional noncoding RNA by incomplete degradation of their genomic RNA. Production of this RNA is highly conserved amongst all members of Flavivirus genus and has been identified as an important determinant of replication for pathogenic flaviviruses. However, the mechanism of action for sfRNA in insects is largely unknown.

    In this project we will identify structural determinants of ISF sfRNA biogenesis, elucidate the role of sfRNA in their replication and identify host pathways targeted by sfRNA in mosquitoes. We will also asses if ISF-specific aspects of sfRNA production contribute to restriction of their replication in mammalian host. UQ researches involved in this project have always been at the forefront of flavivirus research with their achievements including discovery of sfRNA biogenesis and functions, characterization of novel insect-specific flaviviruses and testing their applications for vaccine development. By joining this project, the successful candidate will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills in RNA biology, molecular virology and bioinformatics.

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Publications

Featured Publications

Journal Article

Grants (Administered at UQ)

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • This project aims to understand biogenesis and functions of viral noncoding RNA (sfRNA) produced by insect specific flaviviruses (ISFs). Flaviviruses is a large group of positive strand RNA viruses, which includes important human pathogens such as Dengue, Zika and West Nile virus. ISFs is a subgroup of flaviviruses that can only replicate in mosquito host and are not capable of propagation in vertebrates. They have recently attracted significant attention due to their potential use as a backbone for development of the vaccines against pathogenic flaviviruses. Flaviviruses have evolved to subvert host mRNA decay pathway to generate a functional noncoding RNA by incomplete degradation of their genomic RNA. Production of this RNA is highly conserved amongst all members of Flavivirus genus and has been identified as an important determinant of replication for pathogenic flaviviruses. However, the mechanism of action for sfRNA in insects is largely unknown.

    In this project we will identify structural determinants of ISF sfRNA biogenesis, elucidate the role of sfRNA in their replication and identify host pathways targeted by sfRNA in mosquitoes. We will also asses if ISF-specific aspects of sfRNA production contribute to restriction of their replication in mammalian host. UQ researches involved in this project have always been at the forefront of flavivirus research with their achievements including discovery of sfRNA biogenesis and functions, characterization of novel insect-specific flaviviruses and testing their applications for vaccine development. By joining this project, the successful candidate will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills in RNA biology, molecular virology and bioinformatics.