Our group studies the interactions that occur between incoming animal viruses and their host cells during early infection. Viruses are simple, obligatory, intracellular parasites that depend on the host cell for most of the steps in the replication cycle. This is particularly critical during cell entry, which occurs usually by endocytic uptake and intracellular vesicle transport to deliver the genome to the site of replication. For this, viruses hijack cellular processes for signaling, membrane trafficking, intra- and inter-cellular transport, nuclear import and export, and molecular sorting. Thus, viruses are also valuable tools to analyze endocytic membrane transport phenomena. Accordingly, our research focusses as much on the understanding of the basic cell biology of endocytosis as it does help to fight viral diseases.
Using cellular and molecular techniques in combination with video microsopy in live cells, and systems biology approaches, we investigate how virus particles bind to cells, how they are internalized by endocytosis, and how they are transported to various endosomal organelles. We are also analyzing how the viral genome and accessory proteins escape into the cytosol from these organelles, and how they enter into the nucleoplasm.