Research

Human picornaviruses

Picornaviruses induce human illnesses ranging from common cold caused by rhinoviruses to life-threatening encephalitis caused by enteroviruses and polioviruses. We aim to structurally characterize replication cycle of picornaviruses on molecular level. We use cryo-EM to study virus cell entry, genome replication, virion assembly and release of progeny virions from infected cells. In addition, we use X-ray crystallography to study virion structures of Saffold virus 3, Aichi virus 1, and Parechovirus 1.

Picture: Virion structure of human parechovirus 1 determined by X-ray crystallography.


Honey bee viruses

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) is found all over the world and plays a vital role in agricultural industry by providing pollination services for many food crops. In addition, abundance of wild insect-pollinated plant species declines in areas with reduced populations of honeybees. However, the bees suffer from a combination of factors including virus infections that result in colony losses. We use X-ray crystallography to study virion structures of honeybee viruses from families dicistroviridae and iflaviridae. Furthermore, we aim to identify cell receptors of the viruses and study their complexes with virions by cryo-EM.

Picture: Honeybee pupae experimentally infected with virus.



Phage Therapy

Staphylococcus aureus, which is frequently resistant to antibiotics, causes a range of human diseases from skin infections to life-threatening pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. Phages can be used to treat pathogenic bacteria, even those that are resistant to antibiotics. We study infection cycle of phage phi812 that has been shown to reduce S. aureus infections in humans. Structural description of the phage-bacteria interactions will allow preparation of genetically modified phages targeting new bacterial strains.

Picture: Diagram of structure of bacteriophages from the family Myoviridae and mechanism of their tail contraction

Human flaviviruses

Zika fever is often asymptomatic, however, in pregnant women it can cause abnormal brain development in their fetuses, which may result in miscarriage or microcephaly. Currently, there are no vaccines or drugs effective against Zika virus (ZIKV). Europe and Russia report 10,000-13,000 human tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) infections annually, in spite of the available vaccination. We use cryo-EM to study interactions of antibodies with ZIKV and TBEV. Our results will help in development of ZIKV vaccines and identify candidates for anti-TBEV therapeutic antibodies.

Picture: Structure of tick-borne encephalitis virus with Fab frangments determined by cryoEM