Selection by Viruses has driven the evolution of cellular antiviral defense genes. One gene, Trim5alpha has evolved to block infection by retroviruses. Remarkably, this protein possesses a breadth of recognition spanning multiple genera while at the same time lacking the depth of recognition to recognize all members of a single retroviral genus. Notably, HIV-1 is capable of avoiding this block in humans while other Old World monkey Trim5alphas can block HIV-1 infection. I am currently investigating how Trim5alpha recognizes retroviruses by using a combination of genetic information and molecular and structural biology.
I am a graduate student in the Harvard Virology Program.