Professor Jonathan M Grimes
Influenza virus causes infections that affect approximately 3 to 5 million people every year, leading to between 250,000 to 500,000 deaths around the world. Key to viral replication is the viral polymerase that copies the viral genome and produces viral messenger RNA which is then used to make building blocks for new virus particles. The polymerase of Influenza has to perform a number of chemical steps in order for the virus to replicate, and, akin to a moving motor, it is increasingly clear that being highly dynamic is key to its ability to work.
One of the aims of my group is to understand the structural changes that occur in the polymerase at various stages during replication and transcription. In the longer term, these new insights will be crucial for our understanding of the key molecular events that take place during infection and could be a major step forward, supporting the development of drugs that prevent it from functioning, effectively ‘disarming’ the flu virus and making it unable to spread. This work is done in collaboration with Prof Ervin Fodor in the Dunn School of Pathology. We also have interests in transcription and RNA processing and collaborate with the group of Prof Lidia Vasilieva in the Dept of Biochemistry.