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Dr Andrew E. Firth

Dr Andrew E. Firth

Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow

Reader in Virus Bioinformatics

Division of Virology



- Bioinformatics

- RNA virus comparative genomics

- Positive-sense RNA virus replication

- Virus gene expression mechanisms / translational control

- Novel virus discovery

- Ribosome profiling

- RNA structure and function

Department of Pathology
Division of Virology
University of Cambridge
Laboratories Block Level 5
Box 237, Addenbrookes Hospital
Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 0QQ
United Kingdom

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 762652

Research themes




Research Interests

We are interested in the molecular biology of all sorts of RNA viruses (including both plant and animal). We are especially interested in studying the many weird and wonderful mechanisms that viruses use to express their genes, including discovering completely novel mechanisms of regulating gene expression. See our website:

Research Supervision

Funding for our research comes from the Wellcome Trust, the European Research Council, and the Medical Research Council.

  • Research Associates (experimental virology): Dr Nina Lukhovitskaya, Dr Hazel Stewart, Dr Valeria Lulla
  • Research Associates (bioinformatics): Dr Katherine Brown
  • Graduate Students: Ingrida Olendraite, Charlotte Tumescheit, Rhian O'Connor, Samantha Thomas

Key Publications

  • Lulla V*, Firth AE* (2020) A hidden gene in astroviruses encodes a viroporin. Nat Commun 11:4070.
  • Lulla V*, Dinan AM, Hosmillo M, Chaudhry Y, Sherry L, Irigoyen N, Nayak KM, Stonehouse NJ, Zilbauer M, Goodfellow I, Firth AE* (2019) An upstream protein-coding region in enteroviruses modulates virus infection in gut epithelial cells. Nat Micro 4:280-292.
  • Napthine S, Ling R, Finch LK, Jones JD, Bell S, Brierley I*, Firth AE* (2017) Protein-directed ribosomal frameshifting temporally regulates gene expression. Nat Commun 8:15582.
  • Olspert A*, Carr JP, Firth AE* (2016) Mutational analysis of the Potyviridae transcriptional slippage site utilized for expression of the P3N-PIPO and P1N-PISPO proteins. Nucleic Acids Res 44:7618-7629.
  • Irigoyen N*, Firth AE*, Jones JD, Chung BY, Siddell SG, Brierley I* (2016) High-resolution analysis of coronavirus gene expression by RNA sequencing and ribosome profiling. PLoS Pathog 12:e1005473.
  • Olspert A, Chung BY, Atkins JF, Carr JP, Firth AE* (2015) Transcriptional slippage in the positive-sense RNA virus family PotyviridaeEMBO Rep 16:995-1004.
  • Smirnova E, Firth AE*, Miller WA*, Scheidecker D, Brault V, Reinbold C, Rakotondrafara AM, Chung BY, Ziegler-Graff V* (2015) Discovery of a small non-AUG-initiated ORF in poleroviruses and luteoviruses that is required for long-distance movement. PLoS Pathog 11:e1004868.
  • Firth AE* (2014) Mapping overlapping functional elements embedded within the protein-coding regions of RNA viruses. Nucleic Acids Res 42:12425-12439.
  • Fang Y*, Treffers EE, Li Y, Tas A, Sun Z, van der Meer Y, de Ru AH, van Veelen PA, Atkins JF, Snijder EJ*, Firth AE* (2012) Efficient -2 frameshifting by mammalian ribosomes to synthesize an additional arterivirus protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:E2920-E2928.
  • Jagger BW, Wise HM, Kash JC, Walters KA, Wills NM, Xiao YL, Dunfee RL, Schwartzman LM, Ozinsky A, Bell GL, Dalton RM, Lo A, Efstathiou S, Atkins JF, Firth AE*, Taubenberger JK*, Digard P* (2012) An overlapping protein-coding region in influenza A virus segment 3 modulates the host response. Science 337:199-204.
  • Loughran G, Firth AE*, Atkins JF (2011) Ribosomal frameshifting into an overlapping gene in the 2B-encoding region of the cardiovirus genome. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:E1111-E1119.
  • Chung BY, Miller WA, Atkins JF, Firth AE* (2008) An overlapping essential gene in the PotyviridaeProc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:5897-5902.