Sumana SANYAL Lab

Sumana SANYAL, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD

Honorary Assistant Professor
Division of Public Health Laboratory Sciences
School of Public Health
School of Biomedical Sciences

Assistant Professor
Oxford University


Contact Information
Tel: +852 2831 5524    
Address: 7/F Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Research, 5 Sassoon Road, Hong Kong

Main Objectives and Strategy
The main objectives of the lab are to combine methods of molecular biology and immunology to address aspects of host-pathogen interactions.  Using influenza and dengue as model systems, we aim to determine the identity and function of specific host factors that are exploited by these viruses to complete their intracellular life cycle.  We also investigate counterstrategies employed by the host – either through upregulation of immune signaling pathways or expression of virus restriction factors – in order to prevent virus infection at various steps, including replication, assembly and release.  Among other factors, we are particularly interested in ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like post-translational modifiers of protein function, such as ISG15 that play a significant role in modulating different pathways, most of which are innate signaling pathways such as RIG-I, TLR7 and inflammasome activation.  Our major research projects are listed below.

  • Characterization of host factors involved in virus infections
    A molecular understanding of host cellular factors involved in virus infections is crucial not only to provide novel insights into pathways hijacked by them, but also for development of effective antimicrobials against such pathogens.  Identification of host factors that can be targeted for developing novel anti-viral compounds has the additional benefit of avoiding potential resistance acquired in viruses by mutation and selection.
(a) Exploitation of lipid metabolic pathways in flavivirus infection [Funding: RGC/GRF; HMRF]
(b) Role of Tsg101 in influenza virus infection [Funding: RGC/GRF; PTR-Institut Pasteur; HMRF]
(c) Mechanism of Src-family kinase (SFK)-mediated signaling during flavivirus infections [Funding: HMRF]
  • Targeting deubiquitylases as therapeutic strategies against viral infections [Funding: HMRF; PTR-Institut Pasteur]
  • Regulation of immune signaling by deubiquitylases [Funding: RGC/GRF; HMRF]


  1. Li MY, Naik TS, Siu LYS, Acuto O, Spooner E, Wang P, Yang X, Lin Y, Bruzzone R, Ashour J, Sanyal S (2020) Activation of Src-family kinases orchestrate secretion of flaviviruses by targeting mature progeny virions to secretory autophagosomes.  Nat Microbiol, in revision; bioRxiv doi:
  2. Jahan AS, Biquand E, Munoz R, Le Quang A, Mok CK, Wong HH, Teo Q, Valkenburg SA, Chin AWH, Poon LLM, te Velthuis A, García-Sastre A, Demeret C, Sanyal S (2020) OTUB1 functions as a ubiquitin sensor for RIG-I activation and is targeted for proteasomal degradation by Influenza A virus NS1.  Cell Rep 30:1570–1584.
  3. Wong HH, Sanyal S (2019) Manipulation of autophagy by (+) RNA viruses.  Semin Cell Dev Biol, in press.
  4. Fan Y, Sanyal S, Bruzzone R (2018) Breaking bad: How viruses subvert the cell cycle.  Front Cell Infect Microbiol 8:396.
  5. Pombo JP, Sanyal S (2018) Perturbation of cholesterol and fatty acid homeostasis during flavivirus infections.  Front Immunol 9:1276.
  6. Zhang J, Lan Y, Li MY, Lamers MM, Fusade-Boyer M, Klemm E, Thiele C, Ashour J, Sanyal S (2018) Flaviviruses exploit the lipid droplet protein AUP1 to trigger lipophagy and drive virus production.  Cell Host Microbe 23:819-831.
  7. Fan Y, Mok CK, Zhang Y, Nal B, Kien F, Bruzzone R, Sanyal S (2017) Cell cycle independent role of cyclin D3 in host restriction of influenza virus infection.  J Biol Chem, 292:5070-5088.
  8. Zhang J, Lan Y, Sanyal S (2017) Modulation of Lipid Droplet Metabolism – A potential target for therapeutic intervention in Flaviviridae infections.  Front Microbiol 8:2286.
  9. Jahan AS, Lestra M, Swee LK, Fan Y, Lamers MM, Tafesse FG, Theile CS, Spooner E, Bruzzone R, Ploegh HL, Sanyal S (2016) Usp12 stabilizes the T cell receptor complex at the cell surface during signaling.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113:E705-714.
  10. Lin YP, Luo Y, Chen Y, Lamers MM, Zhou Q, Yang XH, Sanyal S, Mok CKP, Liu ZM (2016) Clinical and epidemiological features of the 2014 large-scale dengue outbreak in Guangzhou city, China.  BMC Infect Dis 16:102.


2005-2010: Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, Ph.D (Biochemistry/Chemical Biology)
2003-2005: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Master of Science in Chemistry
2000-2003: St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Chemistry

Working Experience
2016-present:HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, School of Public Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, HKU, Assistant Professor
2011-2013: HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, School of Public Health, HKU, Research Assistant Professor
2010-2013: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT
Postdoctoral Research Associate (with Prof. Hidde Ploegh)

1. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Basic Metabolism (BSc Biochemistry Year 3 students) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Course Director and Lecturer).
2. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Essentials in Proteomics (BBMS Year 3) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Course Director and Lecturer).
3. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Recent Advances in Biotechnology (MMPH) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Course Director and Lecturer).
4. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Cancer Screening – Problem Based Learning (MBBS Year 4 students) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Tutor).
5. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Introduction to the art and science of medicine – Problem Based Learning (MBBS Year 1 students) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Tutor).
6. Sumana Sanyal (2019) Endocrine and Reproductive Systems – Problem Based Learning (MBBS Year II students) The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Tutor).
7. Sumana Sanyal (2019) 9th HKU-Pasteur Cell Biology Course, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Course Director, Lecturer and Tutor).
  • Adolfo García-Sastre (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA): Function of ubiquitin like modifiers and their mode of restricting RNA virus infections.
  • Leo Poon (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR): Functional characterization of PB2 ubiquitylation.
  • Christoph Thiele (LIMES Institute, University of Bonn, Germany): Role of lipid droplets in virus infections.
  • Caroline Demeret (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France): Role of deubiquitylases in influenza virus infections.
  • Joseph Ashour (Boehringer Ingelheim/Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA): Manipulation of host factors in influenza and dengue infections.
  • Hidde Ploegh (The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA): Studying host factors and their mechanism of function during influenza virus biogenesis centered on ubiquitylation.
  • Targeting E3 ubiquitin ligases as a therapeutic intervention for cytotoxic T-cell killing of Dengue virus infected cells (Principal Investigator; Health and Medical Research Fund).
  • Altered protein acylation regulates mitochondrial function and viral replication during flavivirus infections (Principal Investigator; Research Grants Council/General Research Fund).
  • Croucher Foundation Start Up Funds (Principal Investigator; Croucher Foundation).
  • Regulation of the intracellular life cycle of Influenza A virus by targeting the cellular E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase MGRN1 (Co-Investigator; Health and Medical Research Fund).
  • Viral Host and Environmental Determinants of Influenza virus transmission and pathogenesis (Co-investigator; Research Grants Council/Theme-based Research Scheme).
  • Host lipid metabolism as a potential target for Zika antiviral therapy (Co-Investigator; Health and Medical Research Fund).
  • A chemical proteomics-based strategy for target discovery in flavivirus infections (Principal Investigator; Health and Medical Research Fund).


  • Sumana SANYAL Assistant Professor
  • Yun LAN Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Qiwen TEO PhD Student
  • Ho Him WONG PhD Student
  • Julian HO MPhil Student
  • Lewis SIU Senior Technician
  • Julia FERNANDO Research Assistant 
  • Leslie LAU Research Assistant 
  • Sophie VAN LEUR Research Assistant 
  • Karen Wai Sze CHAN  Executive Assistant