Brigitte Lawhorn

Following entry into the host cell, all retroviruses reverse transcribe their viral RNA genome into DNA and subsequently integrate the viral DNA genome into the host chromatin. As a consequence, these viruses must overcome the physical barrier posed by the nuclear envelope in order to successfully replicate. For viruses within the lentivirus genus – which includes the human immunodeficiency viruses type 1 and type 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2, respectively) and the simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) of over forty non-human primate species – the capsid core encasing the viral genome mediates translocation across nuclear pore complexes (NPC) embedded in the nuclear envelope. My project focuses on understanding: 1) the molecular mechanism of lentiviral nuclear import; 2) how this mechanism changes during cross-species transmission and emergence within new host species; and 3) identifying the selective pressures responsible for observed alterations.

 

Brigitte Lawhorn
Doctoral Candidate

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