Research Groups

Vector Borne Diseases

Group Leader: Sujatha Sunil, PhD

Group Members

Research Interests

Vector-borne diseases, arbovirus, vector biology, Chikungunya, dengue, host pathogen interactions, RNAi, functional genomics

Description of Research

The current focus in the lab is on understanding chikungunya virus (CHIKV) evolution and in studying the dynamics of chikungunya virus /dengue virus (CHIKV/DENV) co-infections in vector and host. With respect to CHIKV evolution, we characterize CHIKV isolated from patients over the years and study the changes in the disease pattern and the molecular characterization over the years. Our studies have paved way to understanding chikungunya disease progression and occurrence of co-infections of CHIKV with DENV in the Indian population. Recently, we identified distinct metabolites in clinical samples of chikungunya and dengue mono and co-infections. We show that distinct pathways are regulated during fever, joint pain and chronic phase of the three conditions of disease presentations.
Using genomic tools, we are identifying vector factors that may play a role on pathogen establishment within the vector with primary interests on the insect microRNA populations. Using next generation sequencing technologies, we have provided important insights to the role of microRNAs in pathogenesis and development. Currently, efforts are been made to bring in another layer of data analysis from global proteomic and metabolomics studies thereby integrating the fields of omics to understand the biology of virus-vector interactions.
We are also studying virus derived virulence factors that could be playing important roles in enabling virus to fight insect immunity. In this regard, we have shown that two non-structural proteins, namely, nsP2 and nsP3 exhibit suppressor RNAi activity in both insect and host. These proteins are the first viral RNAi suppressors to be identified in alphavirus, thereby providing new insights to underlying mechanisms for virulence in alphaviruses. Furthermore, we are also interested in identifying vector host factors that may play a role in CHIKV replication and we are using CRISPR-CAS 9 gene editing technologies for this purpose.
Our lab’s long-term research goal is evaluating the mechanism of co-infection in vector. For this purpose, we have already initiated proof of concept experiments to establish co-infections in lab reared Aedes. We have seen that initial viral load of both the viruses are important in establishing co-infections in the vector. We are currently evaluating the role of super-infections of each of the virus to decipher if either of the viruses exhibit competitive suppression in the vector and further evaluate transmission potential of these viruses in the mosquito salivary glands.

Recent publications

Kaur, N., Jain, J., Kumar, A., Narang, M., Zakaria, M.K., Marcello, A., Kumar, D., Gaind, R., Sunil, S. 2017. Chikungunya outbreak in Delhi, India, 2016: A Report on the co-infection status and co-morbid conditions in patients.. New Microbes New Inf. 2017.

Jain, J., Nayak, K., Tanwar, N., Gaind, R., Gupta, B., Shastri, J.S., Bhatnagar, R.K., Murali Krishna Kaja, M.K., Chandele, A., Sunil, S.2017. Clinical, Serological and Virological analysis of 572 chikungunya patients during the years 2010-2013 from India. Clin Infect Dis. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix283

Jain, J., Dubey, S.K., Jatin Shrinet, J., Sunil, S. 2017. Dengue Chikungunya co-infection: A live-in relationship?? Biochem Biophy Res Comm doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.02.008

Shrinet, J., Srivastava,, P., Sunil, S. 2017. Transcriptome analysis of Aedes aegypti in response to mono-infections and co-infections of Dengue virus-2 and Chikungunya virus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.01.162

Mathur, K., Anand, A., Dubey, S.K., Sanan-Mishra, N., Bhatnagar, R.K., Sunil, S. Analysis of chikungunya virus proteins reveals that non-structural proteins nsP2 and nsP3 exhibit RNA interference (RNAi) suppressor activity. Sci Rep. 2016 6, 38065 PubMed link 

Shrinet, J., Shastri, J.S., Gaind, R., Bhavesh, N.S., Sunil, S. 2016. Serum metabolomics analysis of patients with chikungunya and dengue mono/co-infections reveals distinct metabolite signatures in the three disease conditions. Sci Rep. 6, 36833 PubMed link

ICGEB New Delhi

ICGEB Campus
Aruna Asaf Ali Marg
110 067 New Delhi
Tel: +91-11-26741358/1007
Fax: +91-11-26742316




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