Honors & Awards
Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship, NSERC (2009-2012)
Studentship, Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions (2009-2012)
Presidents Doctoral Prize of Distinction, University of Alberta (2009-2011)
National CIHR Research Training Program in Hepatitis C, Canadian Institute of Health Research (July 2013 - July 2016)
Herman Lopata Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, American Liver Foundation (July 2014 - June 2015)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Alberta (2012)
Bachelor of Science, University of Victoria (2003)
Karla Kirkegaard, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Using poliovirus as a model system, the Kirkegaard laboratory has developed a method to decrease the risk of drug-resistance during RNA virus antiviral therapy by targeting dominant drug targets. My goal is to identify equivalent dominant drug targets in hepatitis C virus in order to decrease the risk of drug-resistance during hepatitis C virus antiviral therapy.
The Hepatitis C Virus-Induced Membranous Web and Associated Nuclear Transport Machinery Limit Access of Pattern Recognition Receptors to Viral Replication Sites.
2016; 12 (2)
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-strand RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family and a major cause of liver disease worldwide. HCV replicates in the cytoplasm, and the synthesis of viral proteins induces extensive rearrangements of host cell membranes producing structures, collectively termed the membranous web (MW). The MW contains the sites of viral replication and assembly, and we have identified distinct membrane fractions derived from HCV-infected cells that contain replication and assembly complexes enriched for viral RNA and infectious virus, respectively. The complex membrane structure of the MW is thought to protect the viral genome limiting its interactions with cytoplasmic pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and thereby preventing activation of cellular innate immune responses. Here we show that PRRs, including RIG-I and MDA5, and ribosomes are excluded from viral replication and assembly centers within the MW. Furthermore, we present evidence that components of the nuclear transport machinery regulate access of proteins to MW compartments. We show that the restricted assess of RIG-I to the MW can be overcome by the addition of a nuclear localization signal sequence, and that expression of a NLS-RIG-I construct leads to increased immune activation and the inhibition of viral replication.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005428
View details for PubMedID 26863439
EVM005: An Ectromelia-Encoded Protein with Dual Roles in NF-κB Inhibition and Virulence.
2014; 10 (8): e1004326
Poxviruses contain large dsDNA genomes encoding numerous open reading frames that manipulate cellular signalling pathways and interfere with the host immune response. The NF-κB signalling cascade is an important mediator of innate immunity and inflammation, and is tightly regulated by ubiquitination at several key points. A critical step in NF-κB activation is the ubiquitination and degradation of the inhibitor of kappaB (IκBα), by the cellular SCFβ-TRCP ubiquitin ligase complex. We show here that upon stimulation with TNFα or IL-1β, Orthopoxvirus-infected cells displayed an accumulation of phosphorylated IκBα, indicating that NF-κB activation was inhibited during poxvirus infection. Ectromelia virus is the causative agent of lethal mousepox, a natural disease that is fatal in mice. Previously, we identified a family of four ectromelia virus genes (EVM002, EVM005, EVM154 and EVM165) that contain N-terminal ankyrin repeats and C-terminal F-box domains that interact with the cellular SCF ubiquitin ligase complex. Since degradation of IκBα is catalyzed by the SCFβ-TRCP ubiquitin ligase, we investigated the role of the ectromelia virus ankyrin/F-box protein, EVM005, in the regulation of NF-κB. Expression of Flag-EVM005 inhibited both TNFα- and IL-1β-stimulated IκBα degradation and p65 nuclear translocation. Inhibition of the NF-κB pathway by EVM005 was dependent on the F-box domain, and interaction with the SCF complex. Additionally, ectromelia virus devoid of EVM005 was shown to inhibit NF-κB activation, despite lacking the EVM005 open reading frame. Finally, ectromelia virus devoid of EVM005 was attenuated in both A/NCR and C57BL/6 mouse models, indicating that EVM005 is required for virulence and immune regulation in vivo.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004326
View details for PubMedID 25122471
Ectromelia Virus Encodes a Novel Family of F-Box Proteins That Interact with the SCF Complex
JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY
2008; 82 (20): 9917-9927
Poxviruses are notorious for encoding multiple proteins that regulate cellular signaling pathways, including the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Bioinformatics indicated that ectromelia virus, the causative agent of lethal mousepox, encoded four proteins, EVM002, EVM005, EVM154, and EVM165, containing putative F-box domains. In contrast to cellular F-box proteins, the ectromelia virus proteins contain C-terminal F-box domains in conjunction with N-terminal ankyrin repeats, a combination that has not been previously reported for cellular proteins. These observations suggested that the ectromelia virus F-box proteins interact with SCF (Skp1, cullin-1, and F-box) ubiquitin ligases. We focused our studies on EVM005, since this protein had only one ortholog in cowpox virus. Using mass spectrometry, we identified cullin-1 as a binding partner for EVM005, and this interaction was confirmed by overexpression of hemagglutinin (HA)-cullin-1. During infection, Flag-EVM005 and HA-cullin-1 colocalized to distinct cellular bodies. Significantly, EVM005 coprecipitated with endogenous Skp1, cullin-1, and Roc1 and associated with conjugated ubiquitin, suggesting that EVM005 interacted with the components of a functional ubiquitin ligase. Interaction of EVM005 with cullin-1 and Skp1 was abolished upon deletion of the F-box, indicating that the F-box played a crucial role in interaction with the SCF complex. Additionally, EVM002 and EVM154 interacted with Skp1 and conjugated ubiquitin, suggesting that ectromelia virus encodes multiple F-box-containing proteins that regulate the SCF complex. Our results indicate that ectromelia virus has evolved multiple proteins that interact with the SCF complex.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.00953-08
View details for Web of Science ID 000260109100011
View details for PubMedID 18684824
My Cousin, My Enemy: quasispecies suppression of drug resistance.
Current opinion in virology
2016; 20: 106-111
If a freshly minted genome contains a mutation that confers drug resistance, will it be selected in the presence of the drug? Not necessarily. During viral infections, newly synthesized viral genomes occupy the same cells as parent and other progeny genomes. If the antiviral target is chosen so that the drug-resistant progeny's growth is dominantly inhibited by the drug-susceptible members of its intracellular family, its outgrowth can be suppressed. Precedent for 'dominant drug targeting' as a deliberate approach to suppress the outgrowth of inhibitor-resistant viruses has been established for envelope variants of vesicular stomatitis virus and for capsid variants of poliovirus and dengue virus. Small molecules that stabilize oligomeric assemblages are a promising means to an unfit family to destroy the effectiveness of a newborn drug-resistant relative due to the co-assembly of drug-susceptible and drug-resistant monomers.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.coviro.2016.09.011
View details for PubMedID 27764731
The 5th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus: We Are Not Done Yet-Remaining Challenges in Hepatitis C.
Canadian journal of gastroenterology & hepatology
2016; 2016: 7603526
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects approximately 268,000 Canadians and results in more years of life lost than any other infectious disease in the country. Both the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have identified HCV-related liver disease as a priority and supported the establishment of a National Hepatitis C Research Network. In 2015, the introduction of new interferon- (IFN-) free therapies with high cure rates (>90%) and few side effects revolutionized HCV therapy. However, a considerable proportion of the population remains undiagnosed and treatment uptake remains low in Canada due to financial, geographical, cultural, and social barriers. Comprehensive prevention strategies, including enhanced harm reduction, broader screening, widespread treatment, and vaccine development, are far from being realized. The theme of the 2016 symposium, "We're not done yet: remaining challenges in Hepatitis C," was focused on identifying strategies to enhance prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HCV to reduce disease burden and ultimately eliminate HCV in Canada.
View details for DOI 10.1155/2016/7603526
View details for PubMedID 27843889
Ectromelia virus encodes a family of Ankyrin/F-box proteins that regulate NFκB.
2014; 468-470C: 351-362
A notable feature of poxviruses is their ability to inhibit the antiviral response, including the nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) pathway. NFκB is a transcription factor that is sequestered in the cytoplasm until cell stimulation, and relies on the SCF (Skp1, culllin-1, F-box) ubiquitin ligase to target its inhibitor, IκBα, for degradation. IκBα is recruited to the SCF by the F-box domain-containing protein βTrCP. Here, we show that ectromelia virus, the causative agent of mousepox, encodes four F-box-containing proteins, EVM002, EVM005, EVM154, and EVM165, all of which contain Ankyrin (Ank) domains. The Ank/F-box proteins inhibit NFκB nuclear translocation, and this inhibition is dependent on the F-box domain. We also demonstrate that EVM002, EVM005, EVM154, and EVM165 prevent IκBα degradation, suggesting that they target the SCF. This study identifies a new mechanism by which ectromelia virus inhibits NFκB.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.virol.2014.08.030
View details for PubMedID 25240225
A Selectable and Excisable Marker System for the Rapid Creation of Recombinant Poxviruses
2011; 6 (9)
Genetic manipulation of poxvirus genomes through attenuation, or insertion of therapeutic genes has led to a number of vector candidates for the treatment of a variety of human diseases. The development of recombinant poxviruses often involves the genomic insertion of a selectable marker for purification and selection purposes. The use of marker genes however inevitably results in a vector that contains unwanted genetic information of no therapeutic value.Here we describe an improved strategy that allows for the creation of marker-free recombinant poxviruses of any species. The Selectable and Excisable Marker (SEM) system incorporates a unique fusion marker gene for the efficient selection of poxvirus recombinants and the Cre/loxP system to facilitate the subsequent removal of the marker. We have defined and characterized this new methodological tool by insertion of a foreign gene into vaccinia virus, with the subsequent removal of the selectable marker. We then analyzed the importance of loxP orientation during Cre recombination, and show that the SEM system can be used to introduce site-specific deletions or inversions into the viral genome. Finally, we demonstrate that the SEM strategy is amenable to other poxviruses, as demonstrated here with the creation of an ectromelia virus recombinant lacking the EVM002 gene.The system described here thus provides a faster, simpler and more efficient means to create clinic-ready recombinant poxviruses for therapeutic gene therapy applications.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0024643
View details for Web of Science ID 000294802800080
View details for PubMedID 21931792
Poxvirus Exploitation of the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System
2010; 2 (10): 2356-2380
Ubiquitination plays a critical role in many cellular processes. A growing number of viruses have evolved strategies to exploit the ubiquitin-proteasome system, including members of the Poxviridae family. Members of the poxvirus family have recently been shown to encode BTB/kelch and ankyrin/F-box proteins that interact with cullin-3 and cullin-1 based ubiquitin ligases, respectively. Multiple members of the poxvirus family also encode ubiquitin ligases with intrinsic activity. This review describes the numerous mechanisms that poxviruses employ to manipulate the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
View details for DOI 10.3390/v2102356
View details for Web of Science ID 000284581900010
View details for PubMedID 21994622
Proteomic screening of variola virus reveals a unique NF-kappa B inhibitor that is highly conserved among pathogenic orthopoxviruses
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2009; 106 (22): 9045-9050
Identification of the binary interactions between viral and host proteins has become a valuable tool for investigating viral tropism and pathogenesis. Here, we present the first systematic protein interaction screening of the unique variola virus proteome by using yeast 2-hybrid screening against a variety of human cDNA libraries. Several protein-protein interactions were identified, including an interaction between variola G1R, an ankryin/F-box containing protein, and human nuclear factor kappa-B1 (NF-kappaB1)/p105. This represents the first direct interaction between a pathogen-encoded protein and NF-kappaB1/p105. Orthologs of G1R are present in a variety of pathogenic orthopoxviruses, but not in vaccinia virus, and expression of any one of these viral proteins blocks NF-kappaB signaling in human cells. Thus, proteomic screening of variola virus has the potential to uncover modulators of the human innate antiviral responses.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0900452106
View details for Web of Science ID 000266580500049
View details for PubMedID 19451633
Orthopoxviruses Require a Functional Ubiquitin-Proteasome System for Productive Replication
JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY
2009; 83 (5): 2099-2108
Cellular homeostasis depends on an intricate balance of protein expression and degradation. The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway plays a crucial role in specifically targeting proteins tagged with ubiquitin for destruction. This degradation can be effectively blocked by both chemically synthesized and natural proteasome inhibitors. Poxviruses encode a number of proteins that exploit the ubiquitin-proteasome system, including virally encoded ubiquitin molecules and ubiquitin ligases, as well as BTB/kelch proteins and F-box proteins, which interact with cellular ubiquitin ligases. Here we show that poxvirus infection was dramatically affected by a range of proteasome inhibitors, including MG132, MG115, lactacystin, and bortezomib (Velcade). Confocal microscopy demonstrated that infected cells treated with MG132 or bortezomib lacked viral replication factories within the cytoplasm. This was accompanied by the absence of late gene expression and DNA replication; however, early gene expression occurred unabated. Proteasomal inhibition with MG132 or bortezomib also had dramatic effects on viral titers, severely blocking viral replication and propagation. The effects of MG132 on poxvirus infection were reversible upon washout, resulting in the production of late genes and viral replication factories. Significantly, the addition of an ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1) inhibitor had a similar affect on late and early protein expression. Together, our data suggests that a functional ubiquitin-proteasome system is required during poxvirus infection.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.01753-08
View details for Web of Science ID 000263209900005
View details for PubMedID 19109393
Ectromelia virus BTB/kelch proteins, EVM150 and EVM167, interact with cullin-3-based ubiquitin ligases
2008; 374 (1): 82-99
Cellular proteins containing BTB and kelch domains have been shown to function as adapters for the recruitment of substrates to cullin-3-based ubiquitin ligases. Poxviruses are the only family of viruses known to encode multiple BTB/kelch proteins, suggesting that poxviruses may modulate the ubiquitin pathway through interaction with cullin-3. Ectromelia virus encodes four BTB/kelch proteins and one BTB-only protein. Here we demonstrate that two of the ectromelia virus-encoded BTB/kelch proteins, EVM150 and EVM167, interacted with cullin-3. Similar to cellular BTB proteins, the BTB domain of EVM150 and EVM167 was necessary and sufficient for cullin-3 interaction. During infection, EVM150 and EVM167 localized to discrete cytoplasmic regions, which co-localized with cullin-3. Furthermore, EVM150 and EVM167 co-localized and interacted with conjugated ubiquitin, as demonstrated by confocal microscopy and co-immunoprecipitation. Our findings suggest that the ectromelia virus-encoded BTB/kelch proteins, EVM150 and EVM167, interact with cullin-3 potentially functioning to recruit unidentified substrates for ubiquitination.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.virol.2007.11.036
View details for Web of Science ID 000255325100008
View details for PubMedID 18221766