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Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

MICR 337: Virology

Second Semester - 18 points

Course prescription

Molecular aspects of virus entry, replication, and assembly in host cells. Mechanisms by which viruses manipulate the hosts to multiply and cause disease.

Course overview

virusViruses are a diverse group of obligate intracellular pathogens that must infect a host to replicate. Viruses infect all forms of life and cause a wide array of human diseases such as flu, measles, hepatitis, polio, and rabies. Viruses manipulate host cell pathways to complete their life cycle and escape host-induced antiviral immune responses. The amazing diversity of viruses is underpinned by central themes of cell entry, genome replication, gene expression, virion assembly, and virion release.

This course is for students wanting a core paper on virology that includes course and team work on contemporary issues in virology from current diseases through to virus-host interactions. It also includes a lab course where students isolate and characterise a virus.

Course objectives: 

  1. Provide the molecular understanding of how viruses with different structures and genomes enter, replicate, assemble, and release from the host cell.
  2. Examine the systemic effects of viral infection on the host and highlight the mechanisms viruses employ to evade host defence.
  3. Integrate information from virus replication and virus-host interactions and provide the basis of vaccine and antiviral strategies.
  4. Develop hands-on research experience with virological methods and techniques.
  5. Promote independent thinking and enable research and critical assessment of a topic. Foster oral communication skills and develop ability to work as a team.

Lecture course overview

MICR 337 lectures will:

  • provide the molecular understanding of how viruses with different structures and genomes enter, replicate, assemble, and release from the host cell.
  • examine the systemic effects of viral infection on the host and highlight the mechanisms viruses employ to evade host defence
  • integrate information from viral replication and virus-host interactions and provide the basis of vaccine and antiviral strategies.

Lab course overview

In the laboratory classes, students will:

  • develop hands-on research experience with virological methods and techniques
  • isolate and purify their own virus from an environmental sample, determine its growth characteristics and host range, and identify it by visualizing it under an electron microscope.

Group presentations and essay overview

This self-learning exercise will:

  • promote independent thinking, enable research and critical assessment of a topic, foster oral communication skills, and develop ability to work as a team.
  • involve researching a given virology topic on their own, giving a short group presentation to the class, and writing an individual 1000-word essay.

Assessment

a. Presentation and essay (10%). In this self-learning exercise, students will research a given virology topic on their own, give a short group presentation to the class, and write an individual 1000-word essay. 

b. Two laboratory assignments (20%). In the laboratory classes, students will isolate and purify their own virus from an environmental sample, determine its growth characteristics and host range, and identify it by visualizing it under an electron microscope. The assignments will be based on laboratory experiments. Failure to attend & complete the lab classes means you may not sit the final exam. 

c. Final examination (70%). Students are given 9 questions listed below beforehand, 6 of which will form the basis of 3 hour final examination. The exam format will be “answer three either/or questions”. 

  1. Describe the mechanisms used by viruses to enter host cells.
  2. Discuss the structural basis of virus assembly.
  3. How do viruses maximise the protein coding potential of their genomes?
  4. How do viruses control the production of host cell proteins?
  5. Describe the intracellular pathways viruses utilise for assembly and release.
  6. Describe the key characteristics that enable viruses to establish chronic infections.
  7. Compare the life cycles of an orthomyxovirus and a coronavirus from entry to release.
  8. Describe the mechanisms by which viruses cause cancer.
  9. What mechanisms do viruses use to evade host defence responses?

Course prerequisites

MICR 221, MICR 223 or GENE 211

Timetable

The course contact time involves two lectures per week for 13 teaching weeks of the second semester. There are two laboratory classes per week during academic weeks 9 – 12 of the second semester for a total of 48 hours, including lab work outside these hours as required. 

Lectures

Thursday, Friday 1-1.50pm (ARCH2)

Textbooks

Reference textbooks:

Introduction to Modern Virology by Dimmock et al. (6th or 7th edition)

Principles of Virology by Flint et al. (2nd, 3rd or 4th edition)

Teaching staff

For more information

Download the course outline (PDF, 27KB)

View the details of this paper on the University of Otago website

Students are encouraged to contact staff by email to make arrangements for a time to discuss course-related matters.

For more information on this course, please contact Dr Matloob Husain.