Seeing Is Believing – Visualizing individual steps of the retroviral life cycle in living animals and at the single molecule level
Prof. Walther-Mothes, Yale University School of Medicine
Dr. Mothes' laboratory is interested in various aspects of viral spread and pathogenesis of HIV-1 and other retroviruses. Retroviruses can efficiently spread from cell to cell through contact zones, called virological and infectious synapses. The Mothes lab has contributed to understanding this process by directly visualizing the formation of cell-cell contacts between infected and uninfected cells, the polarization of virus assembly toward cell-cell contact sites, and the active transfer of viral infection to neighboring cells. A major current interest of the laboratory is to monitor viral spread and aspects of retroviral pathogenesis directly in living animals using multi-photon laser scanning microscopy. The laboratory is also applying single-molecule imaging to understand how conformational events in the HIV-1 envelope protein lead to fusion between viral and cellular membranes. A detailed understanding of these processes will permit the rational design of vaccines and antiviral therapies that prevent virus spreading and the infection of new cells. For more information about Dr. Mothes and his research program, see http://medicine.yale.edu/lab/mothes/index.aspx.