© Uetrecht, C. and Heck, A. J. R. (2011), Modern Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and its Role in Studying Virus Structure, Dynamics, and Assembly. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 50: 8248–8262. doi: 10.1002/anie.201008120 *

Dynamics of viral structures

The junior research group Dynamics of Viral Structures headed by Dr. Charlotte Uetrecht investigates structural changes of viral protein complexes with modern mass spectrometry (MS) methods within the program area molecular mechanisms of viral pathogenesis. The main goal is to better understand the lifecycle of human viruses, especially how viral proteins interact with host factors and each other.

Currently, the research focusses on non-structural viral proteins and accessory functions of structural proteins. Assembly of such protein complex can be monitored in a time-resolved manner using MS. Thereby, dynamic changes in complex stoichiometry and topology can be analysed and compared to complementary light and electron microscopy data.

Another field of research pursues the development of a mass spectrometer to introduce selected protein complexes with millisecond time resolution into an X-ray free-electron laser, the European XFEL. Hereby, high resolution structures of viral complexes and assembly intermediates of viral capsids can be determined on a shot-to-shot basis.

* Link to abstract (illustration)