MERIT Award Recipient: Stephen C. Harrison, Ph.D.
Structure and Assembly of Viruses
The Harrison Laboratory is studying the structures of viral proteins that mediate entry into cells. The mechanisms of viral entry reveal fundamental properties not only of viruses but also of their host cells. Moreover, inhibition of entry is a potential mechanism of action for antiviral drugs. The laboratory's current focus is on the study of double-stranded RNA viruses to help determine how nonenveloped viruses (viruses without lipid membranes of their own) enter cells. This process poses significant mechanistic puzzles. The structures of entry proteins from reovirus and rotavirus suggest that major conformational rearrangements in the protein oligomers may drive membrane penetration steps.