MIT Integrative Microbiology Initiative Seminar Apr. 05, 2024

Friday April 5, 2024 Room 68-180 4:00-5:00 PM

Title: “Fitness landscapes in host-virus evolutionary arms races”


The evolutionary battle between viruses and the immune system is a high-stakes arms race. The immune system makes antiviral proteins, called restriction factors, which can stop the virus from replicating. In response, viruses evolve to evade the effects of restriction factors. To counter this, restriction factors evolve too, and the cycle continues, in which both sides rapidly evolve at interaction interfaces to gain or evade immune defense. However, for innate immune genes, hosts would appear to be at a distinct disadvantage since they cannot evolve as quickly as viruses. How then can innate immune proteins delay viral infections long enough to allow adaptive immunity to manifest? Using deep-mutational scanning, combinatorial mutagenesis, and experimental evolution, we aim to dissect the rule and constraints that shape host-virus arms races using some case-studies.