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Research Projects

Comprehensive Analysis of Viral Host Interactions

Viruses succeed with a remarkably small number of genes to sabotage complex organisms and turn the cellular machinery to their own use. In this respect, viruses are truly "master biologists". The wide range of diseases caused by viruses is a reflection of their diverse interactions with host organisms and their intricate manipulation of host cellular processes. If we could "walk" on the paths of these viral infection strategies, we would obtain an extraordinary lesson in cell biology and access valuable information for the development of therapeutics. Although interactions between viruses and their hosts have been extensively studied, our knowledge of the interactions between viral and host proteins during the course of infection remains quite limited. Our aim is to develop new methods to study viral-host and viral-viral protein interactions during the progression of the highly dynamic viral infection. In particular, we are developing techniques for simultaneously visualizing individual viral proteins in host cells and identifying their interacting macromolecular partners (see Figure below and Cristea et al. 2006). We predict that these techniques will greatly facilitate our understanding of both the molecular details of viral infections and the biology of the cell.

Strategy for the visualization and isolation of viral proteins via a GFP tag

Cristea, I. M. et al. J. Bio. Chem. 2006; 281:30269-30278