I am interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying protein-mediated fusion. Membrane fusion is the principal mechanism used by all organisms for merging membranes and for membrane repair. It has implications for fertilization, muscle and bone repair as well as for development of improved antiviral drugs and vaccinations.
My first model system is the herpesvirus multicomponent fusion machinery. Here I am studying the interactions between the different glycoproteins involved in viral entry and between membranes.
My second model system is the eukaryotic cell-cell fusion proteins from C. elegans EFF-1 and AFF-1.
My toolkit includes electron cryo microscopy and tomography, crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering and biophysical techniques like circular-dichroism, intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence, dynamic light scattering, and analytical ultracentrifugation sedimentation velocity and sedimentation equilibrium. Most important for me is the integration of the results from the different techniques.