Herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2) infect their human hosts for life, causing cold sores, genital lesions, blindness, encephalitis, and life-threatening conditions in immunocompromised people and newborns. HSV-mediated membrane fusion is a prerequisite for infection. But while we know that four viral surface glycoproteins mediate this process, little is known about how they work together or why so many are needed. I am using genetic, biochemical, and cellular approaches to elucidate how HSV glycoproteins cooperate to enable membrane fusion. Understanding the fusion mechanism could uncover new targets for the development of vaccines and treatments to combat infections.
BA, Health and Human Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI