Dr. Coomb’s group has used the SomaScan assay to screen >1300 host proteins in Zika virus-infected cells, both globally and specifically in the central nervous system. Significant findings include the identification of nearly 300 astrocyte proteins that were significantly dysregulated by Zika infections, pointing to pathways that may be involved in neurological complications resulting from Zika, such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Dr. Coombs’ work in influenza has included extensive proteomic scanning of H5N1, H1N1, and H7N9 in various cell types including induced-pluripotent stem cells. Significant findings include the observation that low-pathogenicity strains induce less profound changes to the global proteome. For instance, avian strains stimulate significant downregulation of key proteins, including those involved in antimicrobial response. Seasonal strains do not elicit the same response. Further, Dr. Coombs’ team found that viral infection in stem cells can reduce pluripotency, activate autophagy, and lead to abnormal differentiation.
Key highlights include:
- using proteomics to identify biological processes associated with infection
- measuring proteomic changes in response to antimicrobials
- comparing and contrasting cellular response to Zika and influenza
- exploring how the SomaScan Assay could be used to study COVID-19