Area of Doctoral Study: Biochemistry
Undergraduate Institute: Brown University
Graduate Institutes: Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology
Research Advisor: Michael F. Summers, PhD
More than 33.3 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV-1 infection. Although effective therapies have been developed, continued development of new therapeutic approaches and vaccines would benefit significantly by the availability of appropriate animal models. Current animal models for HIV have several disadvantages, including latent incubation times and xenogenic host/virus systems. The use of the feline/feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) model system provides a plausible animal model for HIV, and my work seeks to understand the structural and functional similarities between HIV and FIV viral assembly through structural and biophysical studies of the FIV matrix protein. Recent studies indicate that HIV matrix is targeted to the plasma membrane for virus assembly via an interaction with the inner plasma membrane phospholipid PIP2, and it is of interest to determine the three dimensional structure of myristylated FIV matrix protein and identify its interactions with biologically relevant PIP molecules. Characterizing the interaction between myristoyl FIV matrix and PIP2 will provide a better understanding of the mechanism utilized by FIV for viral assembly.