Walther H Mothes PhD
Associate Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis
cell biology; retroviral replication; retroviruses; immune; viral biology; genetic; biochemical; cell imaging; Viral entry and exit; Retroviruses including HIV
The Mothes laboratory studies HIV and other retroviruses. Retroviruses are tiny shells harboring viral genetic information which are able to replicate, spread and cause severe diseases such as the AIDS. This is possible, because these viruses have learned to take advantage of available cellular enzymes and to effectively evade the immune system. The Mothes lab is fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of retroviral infections and seeks a comprehensive approach to its understanding.
Extensive Research Description
Our laboratory works on the cell biological aspects of retroviral replication. Retroviruses are small particles of about 100 nm that carry a viral RNA genome surrounded by a viral capsid and a membrane envelope. Given their simple composition, retroviruses depend on cellular processes throughout their replication cycle. In addition, viral replication evolved in the presence of a strong innate and adaptive immune defense. Thus, retroviral replication is the result of a complex interdependence of viral biology, the utilization of cellular biological machineries, and immune evasion. To understand the retroviral life cycle we apply an imaging approach complemented by cell biological, genetic, and biochemical techniques. Live cell imaging allows us to monitor how viral components come together during assembly, to understand how viruses are transmitted from cell to cell, to determine when and where retroviruses infect cells and finally, to analyze at which point antiviral factors interfere with these individual steps.