Gaby RamirezMicrobiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Gaby's research focuses on investigating the interaction between dengue viruses (DENVs) and its human host. DENVs hijack host metabolic pathways to acquire a lipid membrane to successfully complete genome replication and evade the immune system. The envelope and replication complexes formed require a curved and fluid membrane and this is accomplished by having a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. The Perera lab has previously identified an enzyme called Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase 1 (SCD1), which is considered a rate limiting enzyme in the homeostasis of fatty acids. Data gathered suggests that by knocking down this enzyme, DENVs no longer have the perfect structure to continue infecting more cells. Gaby is interested in investigating the impact of enzymes downstream of SCD1 that take unsaturated fatty acids and incorporate them into the molecule glycerol 3-phosphate (GPAT), a metabolite of glycolysis. The GPATs generate a metabolite known as lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which is further modified into phosphatidic acid and serves a central molecule for the generation of diverse types of phospholipids that provide curvature and fluidity to lipid membranes. By carrying out loss of function studies, they provide us with information about how the GPAT-mediated alterations in central carbon metabolism impacts the viral life cycle. Currently, Gaby is carrying out in vitro testing of chemicals and compounds against SARS-CoV-2. Outside of lab, she likes salsa dancing, traveling, learning about different cultures, and spending time with family and friends.