Tanel Punga research group

Epigenetic control during adenovirus infection

The role of infectious agents in the pathogenesis of human disease has received an increased awareness over the past decades. In particular, virus infections appear to be associated with a number of malignant and metabolic disorders.

Epigenetics is a rapidly growing research field that investigates alterations in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA sequence. Virus infections usually induce various epigenetic modifications to ensure optimal viral replication in the recipient cells. Therefore, our group is interested in understanding how a virus infection alters cellular gene expression patterns by introducing epigenetic changes. We use human adenovirus as a model system for our studies. Using this model system we aim to understand what kind of epigenetic changes associate with lytic and persistent virus infections both in the virus genome as well as in the host cell genome. Our special interest is there concentrated on adenovirus “histone-like” protein named as pVII. At present we are characterizing the biochemical properties and functions of the pVII protein. In addition we study the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the onset of a devastating neurological disease Friedreich ataxia.

Characterization of the causative disruption or dysregulation of normal epigenetic signaling pathways involved in disease development will broaden the general understanding disease pathogenesis and may also lead to the innovation of novel therapeutic applications.