Dr. Julia Wildschutte (right) with graduate assistant Abigail Jarosz.
BGSU VIRUS-HOST INTERACTIONS SPECIALIST HAS RESEARCH AWARD TO STUDY RETROVIRAL ELEMENTS IN DOG
Dr. Julia Wildschutte, an assistant professor of biological sciences, is taking a new look at the canine genome, and her research is beginning to reveal that some long-held held beliefs about what it contains may not be entirely accurate.
A specialist in virus-host interactions, Wildschutte has a $300,000, three-year Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health to study "The Properties and Impact of Endogenous Retroviral Elements to the Canine."
“When a retrovirus infects a cell, it integrates a DNA ‘copy’ of its genome, or ‘provirus’, into the nuclear genome of that cell. This means that if a retrovirus is able to infect a germ cell, the provirus may inadvertently be passed onto offspring. And this unlikely scenario has happened a lot in mammalian evolution. Fully 8 percent of the human genome is derived from retroviruses. In mice, it’s about the same. But dogs are interesting,” she said. “In dogs, it’s only .15 percent. How did it happen that dogs have missed such a rich history of retroviruses infecting their germ line?” she said.