Professional Education

  • Diplom, Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen (2011)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen (2015)
  • Bachelor of Science, Universita Degli Studi Di Trento (2008)

Stanford Advisors

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I aim at improving prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment of viral infections in humans via single cell transcriptomics, computational analysis, and microfluidics. I am particularly interested in dengue virus, Zika virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and oncoviruses.

All Publications

  • Feasibility and biological rationale of repurposing sunitinib and erlotinib for dengue treatment. Antiviral research Pu, S. Y., Xiao, F., Schor, S., Bekerman, E., Zanini, F., Barouch-Bentov, R., Nagamine, C. M., Einav, S. 2018; 155: 67–75


    There is an urgent need for strategies to combat dengue virus (DENV) infection; a major global threat. We reported that the cellular kinases AAK1 and GAK regulate intracellular trafficking of multiple viruses and that sunitinib and erlotinib, approved anticancer drugs with potent activity against these kinases, protect DENV-infected mice from mortality. Nevertheless, further characterization of the therapeutic potential and underlying mechanism of this approach is required prior to clinical evaluation. Here, we demonstrate that sunitinib/erlotinib combination achieves sustained suppression of systemic infection at approved dose in DENV-infected IFN-α/β and IFN-γ receptor-deficient mice. Nevertheless, treatment with these blood-brain barrier impermeable drugs delays, yet does not prevent, late-onset paralysis; a common manifestation in this immunodeficient mouse model but not in humans. Sunitinib and erlotinib treatment also demonstrates efficacy in human primary monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Additionally, DENV infection induces expression of AAK1 transcripts, but not GAK, via single-cell transcriptomics, and these kinases are important molecular targets underlying the anti-DENV effect of sunitinib and erlotinib. Lastly, sunitinib/erlotinib combination alters inflammatory cytokine responses in DENV-infected mice. These findings support feasibility of repurposing sunitinib/erlotinib combination as a host-targeted antiviral approach and contribute to understanding its mechanism of antiviral action.

    View details for PubMedID 29753658

  • Single-cell transcriptomics of 20 mouse organs creates a Tabula Muris. Nature 2018; 562 (7727): 367–72


    Here we present a compendium of single-cell transcriptomic data from the model organism Mus musculus that comprises more than 100,000 cells from 20 organs and tissues. These data represent a new resource for cell biology, reveal gene expression in poorly characterized cell populations and enable the direct and controlled comparison of gene expression in cell types that are shared between tissues, such as T lymphocytes and endothelial cells from different anatomical locations. Two distinct technical approaches were used for most organs: one approach, microfluidic droplet-based 3'-end counting, enabled the survey of thousands of cells at relatively low coverage, whereas the other, full-length transcript analysis based on fluorescence-activated cell sorting, enabled the characterization of cell types with high sensitivity and coverage. The cumulative data provide the foundation for an atlas of transcriptomic cell biology.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-018-0590-4

    View details for PubMedID 30283141

  • Single-cell transcriptional dynamics of flavivirus infection. eLife Zanini, F., Pu, S. Y., Bekerman, E., Einav, S., Quake, S. R. 2018; 7


    Dengue and Zika viral infections affect millions of people annually and can be complicated by hemorrhage and shock or neurological manifestations, respectively. However, a thorough understanding of the host response to these viruses is lacking, partly because conventional approaches ignore heterogeneity in virus abundance across cells. We present viscRNA-Seq (virus-inclusive single cell RNA-Seq), an approach to probe the host transcriptome together with intracellular viral RNA at the single cell level. We applied viscRNA-Seq to monitor dengue and Zika virus infection in cultured cells and discovered extreme heterogeneity in virus abundance. We exploited this variation to identify host factors that show complex dynamics and a high degree of specificity for either virus, including proteins involved in the endoplasmic reticulum translocon, signal peptide processing, and membrane trafficking. We validated the viscRNA-Seq hits and discovered novel proviral and antiviral factors. viscRNA-Seq is a powerful approach to assess the genome-wide virus-host dynamics at single cell level.

    View details for PubMedID 29451494

  • mutation rates and the landscape of fitness costs of HIV-1. Virus evolution Zanini, F., Puller, V., Brodin, J., Albert, J., Neher, R. A. 2017; 3 (1): vex003-?


    Mutation rates and fitness costs of deleterious mutations are difficult to measure in vivo but essential for a quantitative understanding of evolution. Using whole genome deep sequencing data from longitudinal samples during untreated HIV-1 infection, we estimated mutation rates and fitness costs in HIV-1 from the dynamics of genetic variation. At approximately neutral sites, mutations accumulate with a rate of 1.2 × 10(-5) per site per day, in agreement with the rate measured in cell cultures. We estimated the rate from G to A to be the largest, followed by the other transitions C to T, T to C, and A to G, while transversions are less frequent. At other sites, mutations tend to reduce virus replication. We estimated the fitness cost of mutations at every site in the HIV-1 genome using a model of mutation selection balance. About half of all non-synonymous mutations have large fitness costs (>10 percent), while most synonymous mutations have costs <1 percent. The cost of synonymous mutations is especially low in most of pol where we could not detect measurable costs for the majority of synonymous mutations. In contrast, we find high costs for synonymous mutations in important RNA structures and regulatory regions. The intra-patient fitness cost estimates are consistent across multiple patients, indicating that the deleterious part of the fitness landscape is universal and explains a large fraction of global HIV-1 group M diversity.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/ve/vex003

    View details for PubMedID 28458914