I graduated from the University of York with an MBiol in Biology in 2021. During my undergraduate degree, I was always very interested in the mechanisms cells use to adapt their behaviour and gene expression to different conditions, and in how these mechanisms are crucial to the maintenance of health. I particularly enjoyed learning about how these mechanisms are co-opted to promote diseases like cancer. I was drawn to this project because studying how Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV), an oncogenic virus, dysregulates host cell biology in order to promote pathogenesis will allow me to pursue this interest further. I was also very interested in learning more about how the regulation of non-coding RNA can play an important role in disease.
KSHV is an oncogenic virus shown to cause diseases such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Primary Effusion Lymphoma. Increasing evidence has shown that one of the mechanisms it uses to do so it to use host cell non-coding RNAs to alter host gene expression in its favour. I am studying circular RNAs, which are an emerging class of non-coding RNAs shown to promote a range of cancers and other diseases by altering gene expression and protein function, and by being translated into peptides. Recent evidence has found that KSHV alters the function and expression of host circRNAs to its own benefit, and my project aims to understand the mechanisms it uses to do so. In particular, I am investigating the potential role of the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification. m6A modification has been shown to regulate the expression and function of both messenger and circular RNAs, and is used by KSHV to regulate messenger RNA expression.