Structural Virology Structures of virus receptors: We have already worked out four virus receptor structures, including CD4, the receptor for HIV, ICAM-1, the receptor for human rhinovirus, VCAM-1, the receptor for mouse encephalomyocarditis, and CEACAM1a, the mouse hepatitis virus receptor. We have discovered how these similar-looking proteins are subverted to receptors for different viruses. Our structural studies on these extremely important receptors have had a good impact on the medical research and pharmaceutical circle. We would like to go on this line, working on other virus receptors.
Structures of viral fusion proteins: After binding to receptor, those enveloped viruses have a mechanism to fuse their membrane with cellular membrane, resulting in the entry of their genome into host cell. We have solved structures of a core part of fusion protein gp41 from HIV and SIV surface glycoprotein. We will be working on other viral fusion proteins.
More recently the structure of nucleoprotein (NP) of influenza virus H5N1 has been resolved. We will work with our collaborators to expand structural and biochemical studies into how NP interacts with other viral and host cell molecules. This should form a good basis for drug design to combat the threatening virus. This work is a collaboration with scientist at Chinese University of Hong Kong.