The basics of RNA virus replication
Our research focuses on the molecular biology of RNA viruses with a positive-sense genome (+RNA viruses), which constitute the largest group of RNA viruses. The RNA virus world includes many human pathogens that are either familiar or ‘emerging’. The latter often involves transfer from an animal reservoir (so-called zoonotic infections), as in the case of the SARS- and MERS-coronaviruses, Chikungunya virus, and Zika virus, which are currently being studied in our lab. We are analyzing the replicative enzymes of these viruses, study how they modify the infrastructure and physiology of the infected cell, and investigate their interactions with the host’s immune system, which are often aimed avoiding or disrupting antiviral responses.
Developing novel antiviral strategies
Due to their high mutation rate and rapid evolution, RNA viruses can readily escape host immunity or antiviral therapy. This challenging feature must be taken into account when developing antiviral strategies, such as vaccination or drug treatment. Furthermore, in the context of vaccine development, we investigate how immunity can be elicited by modifying viral genomes or using them as expression platform. In doing so, our research aims to provide knowledge and prototypes that will improve our preparedness for future virus outbreaks.
- Molecular biology of +RNA virus replication (Bredenbeek, Gorbalenya, van Hemert, Snijder)
- Ultrastructure and function of viral replication complexes (Bárcena, Kikkert, Snijder)
- Innate immunity and innate immune evasion (Kikkert)
- Vaccine development (Bredenbeek, Kikkert, Snijder)
- Antiviral drug development (van Hemert, Snijder)