Headshot portrait of Ailsa Craven - Bio-X Undergraduate Fellow
2022 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Biology
Mentor: Karla Kirkegaard (Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology)

“Identification of the Mechanosensing Ion Channel Responsible for Extrusion of Virus-Infected Cells from Colonic Epithelial Organoids”

Previous work has found that virus-infected colon cells are removed by whole-cell extrusion, a natural mechanism to eliminate aberrant cells. In a healthy gut, mechanical stresses of cell crowding can trigger extrusion to promote cell turnover. Experiments inhibiting mechano-sensitivity in cells demonstrated that cell extrusion in response to viral infection depends on force-activated mechanosensitive ion channels. In this project, Ailsa will identify the signaling pathway responsible for force-activated mechano-sensitivity using small interfering RNA molecules to inhibit the function of each known-associated gene (Piezo-1, Piezo-2, TRPC1, TRPC6, and TACAN) in organoids and monitor infected cell extrusion using microscopy. This project will aid in discovering the essential genes involved in triggering the physical removal of virally-hijacked cells.