What is this research project about?
Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous betaherpesvirus of high clinical importance that establishes lifelong latent infection in humans. It is the leading cause of congenital disabilities in the developed world and a significant cause of disease in immunocompromised patients, such as transplant, AIDS, or cancer patients. It has been ranked high priority for vaccine development for over 20 years. Still, despite continuing efforts, no licensed vaccine exists so far, and antiviral therapy currently is the only treatment option, with the development of viral resistance being a significant concern.
What’s the current status?
HCMV assembles in a complex order of consecutive morphogenesis events that are poorly understood at the spatiotemporal level. Highly resolved data is needed to determine how viruses assemble at the single-particle level and identify potential bottlenecks in these processes as specific pharmacological target structures.
Light and electron microscopy of an HCMV infected cell with multiviral bodies.
©Flomm et al. In BioRxiv
How do we get there?
Together with our colleagues at the MHH as well as at the CSSB in Hamburg, we combine molecular virology with cutting-edge light- and electron microscopy tools as well as structural biology and the computational infrastructure available at the Center for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) in Hamburg to analyze how viruses assemble at the single-particle level.