Function of apoptotic bodies in pathophysiological settings

Extracellular vesicles including apoptotic bodies have been implicated to regulate physiological and pathological processes via the molecules they carry inside or exposed on their surface. However, the importance of generating apoptotic bodies during apoptosis in pathophysiological settings is poorly understood.

In this project, the role of apoptotic cell disassembly will be examined in the context of influenza A infection in collaboration with Prof Weisan Chen (La Trobe University). During viral infection, infected cells often undergo apoptosis to shutdown cellular machinery as a defence mechanism to limit viral replication. However, phagocytic removal of infected apoptotic cells/fragments may also facilitate the spread of infection, whereby the phagocyte could become infected following the engulfment of apoptotic cells/fragments containing viral particles. Although viral proteins have been suggested to accumulate in apoptotic bodies during apoptosis, the role of apoptotic cell disassembly in the context of viral infection is underexplored. To address this fundamental problem, the importance of apoptotic body formation in influenza A infection will be investigated.