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MCB Seminar for Dr. Steven F. Baker

May 17, 2021 - 9:15am

The School of Natural Sciences


Alternative splicing reveals novel influenza virus co-factors

Steven F. Baker, Ph.D.

Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Monday, May 17th, 2021


To Zoom in, please use this link:


Influenza viruses are human endemic pathogens but also re-emerge through zoonoses. Understanding how to mitigate poor infection outcomes from circulating viruses or limit cross-species transmission events is of critical health and economic importance. All viruses rely on host proteins to facilitate their replication, and influenza viruses rapidly adapt to utilize or avoid species-specific pro- or antiviral host factors. Typically, this battleground of host-pathogen co-evolution is characterized by amino acid differences in host factors. My work has uncovered nuance in host factor differences to extend beyond point mutations and reveals that alternative mRNA splicing drastically reshapes the host-virus interface. This seminar will cover the discovery and molecular mechanisms of two such alternatively spliced host factors, ANP32A and cMECR. We found that host alternative splice patterns of proviral ANP32A is a determinate of virus host range. By contrast, alternative splicing unlocks an antiviral protein, cMECR, from an evolutionarily conserved host metabolic enzyme. Future work extends and broadens these observations to identify alternatively spliced host factors and characterize how they can impact future virus zoonoses with pandemic potential.




Steve grew up in western New York state and attended the University of Rochester for his PhD. He studied influenza virus engineering and vaccinology under the guidance of Luis Martínez-Sobrido. In graduate school, he was awarded the Vincent du Vigneaud award for outstanding thesis, won a grant to train at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, but is most proud to have two internship trainees each voluntarily repeat their training program. Steve moved to Madison, WI for his postdoc with Burroughs-Wellcome Fund investigator Andy Mehle where he studies host factors that hurt or help influenza virus. He was a Roche postdoctoral fellow, was a UW postdoc association executive board member, and received independent funding through Pacific Biosciences. He enjoys hiking, cooking, and hanging with his fiancé and their 3 dogs.


For more information, please contact:

Prof. Michele Nishiguchi at