Subunit Quantitative Virology - Dr. Jens Bernhard Bosse

Cellular life is based on the steady state of myriad of interconnected transport processes, allowing the cell to rapidly respond to cues. Viruses hijack this web of transport processes to fulfill their life cycles. To understand how viruses reprogram cells to their own needs it is therefore not enough to understand the parts a virus is made of. Instead, we first have to observe the intricate dynamics of viral host interaction in their totality to be able to deduce the “rules of the game”.

The established methodology to observe living cells is live cell fluorescence microscopy. However, conventional fluorescence light microscopy techniques only allow snapshots of living cells with limited temporal and spatial resolution due to photobleaching and phototoxicity. The subunit Quantitative Virology aims to circumvent this problem with two technologies:

First they use and further develop novel, bespoke, light sheet-based methodologies. Light sheet microscopy uses thin sheets of light, which ideally only illuminate the plane of focus. This allows the observation and analysis of highly photo-sensible cells in toto for largely prolonged periods of time with much better axial resolution and coverage.

Second, in cooperation with Dr. Rudolph Reimer the subunit will develop high resolution, high contrast, label-free, transmitted light microscopy methodologies that are able to trace viral lifecycles. The high density of viral capsids will help them in a proof of concept.

Finally, to extract meaningful data from the in toto observation of cellular and viral dynamics, they are developing software analysis methods that are capable of tracing and handling thousands of particles.

In combination, the subunit's approach will help to understand the intricate web of dynamics needed to maintain a living cell and how viruses use it, ultimately helping to develop new antiviral cures.


Picture: Tracing of viral particles into neuronal axons (Credit: Jens Bernhard Bosse, Ben Winer and Lynn Enquist).