Mörsdorf group  
Cell biology of virus pathogenesis

Viruses are dependent on an intricate set of interactions between the virus and the host cell that optimize the environment for viral replication and assembly, and limit recognition of the infected cell by host defense mechanisms. These interactions start with the initial contact of the virus with the cell membrane and result in immediate response of the cell, as measured by physiological changes and induction of signalling pathways. We use the human pathogen HSV-1 (Herpes simplex virus type 1) and the insect-specific baculovirus AcMNPV (Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus) as model systems to gain insights into the interplay between these viruses and their host cells on a molecular level. Both viruses are large DNA viruses which replicate in the nucleus of their host cells. HSV-1 enters its human host via epithelia of mucosa, skin or cornea where primary infection is established followed by a latent state in sensory neurons. This virus can cause a range of diseases from mild uncomplicated mucocutaneous affections to life threatening infections. AcMNPV attracts attention as potential pest control agent and as highly efficient eukaryotic expression system. Unique biological features of AcMNPV are the switch of RNA polymerases during the cascade of viral gene expression and the production of two distinct virus forms. The main interest of our lab is to understand how HSV-1 overcomes the barrier function of the skin and penetrates into the epithelium to initiate infection in keratinocytes, and how AcMNPV exploits the actin cytoskeleton as well as nuclear sub-architecture of its host cell for successful infection.

20 September 2010
Dagmar Mörsdorf
Institute for Biochemistry II, Joseph-Stelzmann-Strasse 52, D50931 Cologne
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