Cara Pager

  • Cara Pager


    Dr.Pager’s laboratory focuses on regulation of viral gene expression and virus-host interactions. Specifically the lab is interested in how hepatitis C virus (HCV) usurps cellular mRNA metabolism pathways to modulate viral gene expression. The laboratory uses a combination of virology, biochemical, molecular and cellular biology approaches to examine the interactions and mechanisms by which HCV subverts host translation, microRNA and mRNA degradation pathways. Dr. Pager discovered that HCV modulates viral gene expression and virus assembly by subverting components of the cytoplasmic RNA granules (P-bodies and stress granules) involved in mRNA storage and decay. One P-body protein, the RNA DEAD-box helicase RCK/p54 is highly expressed in HCV-related hepatitis and is an effector of microRNA-mediated gene regulation. In addition to a role in virus assembly, they found that RCK/p54 modulated the essential interaction of the liver-specific microRNA miR-122 with the HCV genome. Current research is focused on (i) understanding the interactions of RCK/p54 and miR-122 with HCV; (ii) the mechanisms by which RCK/p54 promotes virus assembly; and (iii) the role of RCK/p54 in modulating the interaction of miR-122 with the HCV genome. Results will contribute not only to understanding microRNA-mediated and HCV gene regulation, but will also provide insight into the role of RCK/p54 in other viral infections including the localization of Brome Mosaic viral RNA, Dengue virus replication and HIV virus assembly.