IBBR Postdoc Debajit Dey Receives Scholar Travel Award from American Society for Virology (ASV)

Mon, May 23, 2022
Debajit Dey

The American Society for Virology (ASV) has awarded their internationally competitive Postdoctoral Scholar Travel Award to Debajit Dey, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Hasan lab at IBBR/University of Maryland, School of Medicine. Dey is a member of the IBBR Postdoctoral Program (IPP), and he will travel to the upcoming ASV annual meeting in July at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and present his work on cellular hijacking by SARS-CoV-2 with a talk entitled, “Insights into SARS-CoV-2 spike and COPI residues that control binding and release during retrograde trafficking.”

The assembly of SARS-CoV-2 progeny in infected cells requires the spike protein to be trafficked from its site of synthesis to the site of virus assembly. This work describes the biophysical, in silico, and structural details of mimicry exhibited by the spike protein. This enables the spike to trick cellular trafficking machinery and "piggyback" its way from the site of synthesis to the site of SARS-CoV-2 assembly. This advances the understanding of coronavirus evolution and opens avenues for designing therapeutics. 

“Viral genomes typically only contain a limited number of genes that helps them travel light and efficiently,” stated Hasan. “Protein trafficking requires dozens of gene products, which would greatly enlarge the size of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. This work advances our understanding of a clever strategy employed by SARS-CoV-2 to achieve viral progeny assembly while avoiding the genetic baggage required for spike trafficking. This opens new avenues to study the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, the emergence of variants, and to potentially develop drugs against SARS-CoV-2.”

This work has been published in the scientific journal Communications Biology and is a collaboration between the Hasan and Pierce labs at IBBR and the University of Iowa. Suruchi Singh, a postdoc in the Hasan lab, shares the first authorship on this research article with Dey. 

Reference: Dey D*, Singh S*, Khan S, Martin M, Schnicker NJ, Gakhar L, Pierce BG, Hasan SS. An extended motif in the SARS-CoV-2 spike modulates binding and release of host coatomer in retrograde trafficking. Commun Biol. 2022 Feb 8;5(1):115. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03063-y. PMID: 35136165; PMCID: PMC8825798. *equal authorship.