- Rehwinkel Group: Nucleic Acid Sensing Research Group
My research focuses on how the immune system detects viruses and develops a response to clear the infection. I did my PhD in the Pasteur Institute in Paris. My focus was on the capacity of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to infect immune cells, in particular dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are able to detect viruses and initiate the adaptive immune response, a response that is specific for the virus and is usually able to clear the infection. A better understanding of the interaction between the virus and dendritic cells might explain how HIV manages to evade this response and to establish a chronic infection.
I recently joined Jan Rehwinkel's lab as a post-doctoral scientist. My interest focuses on mechanisms of virus sensing in infected cells and the pathways involved. When DNA is detected by a cytosolic protein called cGAS, a second messenger is produced: cGAMP. The lab recently showed that cGAMP is then incorporated into enveloped virus particles that are budding from an infected cell (Bridgeman et al., Science 2015). These cGAMP-loaded virus particles deliver cGAMP into target cells, resulting in a rapid induction of antiviral responses. I am interested in the translational implications of this finding for vaccine design.