PhD Studentship: Herpesvirus-host cell interactions

Closing date: TBD

Ultrastructural insights into avian herpesvirus-host cell interactions

Supervisors: Dr Yongxiu Yao (The Pirbright Institute), Professor Venugopal Nair (The Pirbright Institute), Dr James Gilchrist (Diamond Light Source) and Professor Peijun Zhang (University of Oxford)

Project details

Marek’s disease virus (MDV) is a major avian alphaherpesvirus associated with Marek’s disease (MD) in poultry characterised by rapid-onset T-cell lymphomas, immunosuppression and paralysis causing annual economic losses of around $2 billion worldwide. Compared to other herpesviruses, MDV has several distinct characteristics, the most important one being its strict cell-associated replication and cell-to-cell spread.

This collaborative project between eBIC, the Structural Biology Department at Oxford and the Pirbright Institute aims to gain structural insights into the strict cell-associated lifestyle of this major avian viral pathogen using state-of-the-art tools such as cryogenic electron microscopy (Cryo-EM), electron tomography (Cryo-ET) and focused ion beam (Cryo-FIB) milling at Diamond and Oxford. Project will also aim to explore virus-host interactions using the virology expertise at Pirbright, particularly focusing on the interactions of the major viral oncoprotein MEQ that is associated with the induction of lymphomas and increasing virulence. Thus, the project provides the opportunity to study biogenesis of a cell-associated highly oncogenic herpesvirus as well as explore ultrastructure of viral and cellular protein complexes using the most advanced structural biology tools.

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