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Nicholas Heaton

Assistant Professor
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
(919) 684-1351
Research Interest: 
Microbiology and virology
Research Summary: 
Understanding the interaction between respiratory RNA viruses and their hosts.
Research Description: 

The Heaton Lan is interested in the genetic engineering of negative sense RNA viruses, particularly respiratory viruses such as influenza viruses. These manipulated viruses, together with transgenic animal models, allow us to ask novel questions about the biology of viral infections. We have established systems that allow for the tagging of viral proteins as well as the insertion of entire genes with minimal costs to the virulence of the virus. These platforms allow us to generate novel viral tools for probing specific aspects of viral infections not previously possible.

We are currently interested in the use of influenza viruses that express various reporter proteins that allow us to to:

1.) Study viral tropisms and cell fate following infection

2.) Understand how infections influence immunity to secondary infections

3.) Evaluate vaccination strategies and antiviral therapeutic efficacies in vivo

Additionally, we are interested in engineering these viruses for various biotechnology applications such as vaccine delivery systems.

Our over-arching goal is to further our basic understanding of how cells are altered by viral infection, and how that alteration affects lung disease in the short and long term. Our increased understanding of these mechanisms will allow us to apply this knowledge to develop new, or improve existing, treatments for respiratory virus disease.

Club cells surviving influenza A virus infection induce temporary nonspecific antiviral immunity.
Hamilton JR, Sachs D, Lim JK, Langlois RA, Palese P, Heaton NS.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016. : .

Targeting Viral Proteostasis Limits Influenza Virus, HIV, and Dengue Virus Infection.
Heaton NS, Moshkina N, Fenouil R, Gardner TJ, Aguirre S, Shah PS, Zhao N, Manganaro L, Hultquist JF, Noel J, Sachs DH, Hamilton J, Leon PE, Chawdury A, Tripathi S, Melegari C, Campisi L, Hai R, Metreveli G, Gamarnik AV, García-Sastre A, Greenbaum B, Simon V, Fernandez-Sesma A, Krogan NJ, Mulder LC, van Bakel H, Tortorella D, Taunton J, Palese P, Marazzi I.
Immunity. 2016. 44:46-58.

Replication-Competent Influenza B Reporter Viruses as Tools for Screening Antivirals and Antibodies.
Fulton BO, Palese P, Heaton NS.
J Virol. 2015. 89:12226-31.

Mutational Analysis of Measles Virus Suggests Constraints on Antigenic Variation of the Glycoproteins.
Fulton BO, Sachs D, Beaty SM, Won ST, Lee B, Palese P, Heaton NS.
Cell Rep. 2015. 11:1331-8.

Long-term survival of influenza virus infected club cells drives immunopathology.
Heaton NS, Langlois RA, Sachs D, Lim JK, Palese P, tenOever BR.
J Exp Med. 2014. 211:1707-14.