Dr. Schountz’s lab of the Center for Vector-borne Infectious Diseases (CVID) is interested in understanding immune responses of bats to bat-borne human pathogenic viruses that typically lead to apathogenic infections in the bats. Current areas of interest are H18N11 bat influenza A virus, coronaviruses (MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2), and paramyxoviruses. Most work in the lab focuses on bat-borne viruses using a unique breeding colony of Jamaican fruit bats as an animal model.
Active projects are funded by NIAID to develop a better understanding as to why bats can host such high impact human pathogens that cause no discernible disease in bats. Bats have a number of seemingly unusual immunological features about them, including a robust type I interferon response, little evidence of inflammation, and little evidence of affinity maturation that typically leads to high titered antibody responses. These unusual features have undoubtably shaped the genomes of bat viruses, and it may be that they also contribute to the highly pathogenic nature of bat-borne viruses in humans.
Biology and infection of bats with novel bat influenza viruses
The Schountz lab is researching the effects of H18N11 and PR8 H1N1 IAV provided by Kansas State University. This is done through real- time multiplex PCR, flow cytometry, and assessment of viral loads.
MERS coronavirus: antagonism of double-stranded RNA induced host response by accessory proteins
Bats are the most important reservoirs of coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Dr. Schountz’s lab is interested in understanding how these viruses manipulate bat immune responses to favor infection without causing disease in the bats.
Investigation of Zoonotic Viruses in Bats in the Caribbean
Dr. Schountz is collaborating with colleagues at St. George’s University in Grenada to study viral infections of bats. Samples from bats are tested for a variety of viruses, including influenza viruses, coronaviruses, hantaviruses and flaviviruses.
Antiviral responses in a Jamaican fruit bat intestinal organoid model of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Nat Commun. 2023 Oct 28;14(1):6882. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-42610-x. PMID: 37898615
Regulatory T cell-like response to SARS-CoV-2 in Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis) transduced with human ACE2.
PLoS Pathog. 2023 Oct 19;19(10):e1011728. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011728. eCollection 2023 Oct. PMID: 37856551
Metagenomics-enabled reverse-genetics assembly and characterization of myotis bat morbillivirus.
Nat Microbiol. 2023 Jun;8(6):1108-1122. doi: 10.1038/s41564-023-01380-4. Epub 2023 May 4. PMID: 37142773
Integrative single-cell characterization of frugivory adaptations in the bat kidney and pancreas.
bioRxiv. 2023 Feb 13:2023.02.12.528204. doi: 10.1101/2023.02.12.528204. Preprint.PMID: 36824791
SARS-CoV-2 infects multiple species of North American deer mice and causes clinical disease in the California mouse.
bioRxiv. 2022 Aug 23:2022.08.22.504888. doi: 10.1101/2022.08.22.504888. Preprint. PMID: 36052372
news and updates
By closely studying infectious diseases in his colony, Dr. Tony Schountz provides expert information on the implications and future of bat virology and immunology in relation to the pandemic.
CSU researchers expanded their neurovirology work to include anti-inflammatory drug therapies for COVID-19. Colorado State University is one of a small number of universities where this research can take place.
Tony Schountz explains the work of his laboratory showing that deer mice can be infected with and transmit SARS-CoV-2, and how his colony of Jamaican fruit bats is being used to understand their response to virus infections.