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Rongtuan Lin, PhD

Molecular & Regenerative Medicine

5’pppRNA, Antiviral response, Interferon signaling, RIG-I, TRAF7, Viral escape
  • Senior Investigator, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
  • Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, McGill University, McGill University

Contact details

(514) 340-8222 ext. 25272


Rongtuan Lin’s laboratory has a long-standing interest in investigating the virus-host interaction and understanding the impact of viral infection on host transcription control and viral pathogenesis. Their current interests include the use of small molecules that mimic viral RNA to inhibit pathogenic virus infection.

Their group has characterized the kinases (IKKi and TBK1) and the transcription factors (IRF-3 and 7) as essential cellular factors to trigger antiviral immune response; and demonstrated the capacity of small molecules agonist of RIG-I to stimulate a strong antiviral immune response and to inhibit influenza, Dengue, and other pathogenic human viruses.

Major Research Activities

Rongtuan Lin’s research program is to characterize the positive and negative regulation of antiviral innate immune response, determine the impact of virus-host cell interactions on the initiation and regulation of innate immune signaling, and develop novel strategies to control and prevent virus infection.


The specific research areas in the laboratory include:

  • Manipulating the RIG-I signaling pathway to inhibit viral pathogens. They have developed novel RNA structures that activate the cytosolic RNA sensor RIG-I, trigger a robust antiviral response and protect against a broad range of human pathogens. They aim to further determine the potential of RIG-I agonists as a therapeutic agent to treat or prevent human pathogenic virus infection. The effect of 5’pppRNA on Ebola virus and coronavirus infection/replication is being examined in vitro in human cell lines.
  • Characterizing the mechanisms of TRAF7 in the negative regulation of antiviral response. While innate immune activation is an important research topic, so is the negative regulation that controls it. The tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor (TRAF) protein family members are cytoplasmic regulatory molecules that function as signal transducers for receptors in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Their preliminary data additionally indicate that TRAF7 acts as a negative regulator of the IRF3-mediated antiviral response. They seek to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying TRAF7-mediated inhibition of the antiviral immune response.
  • Investigating the potential of Nrf2 modulators as antiviral and anticancer therapeutics. NFE2-related factor 2 (NRF2) is an anti-oxidative transcription factor negatively regulated by Keap1 and known to control redox homeostasis. They aim to investigate the role and mechanisms of Nrf2 signaling in inhibiting the innate immune response during viral infection.

Recent Publications and References