Thomas Smith – Danforth Plant Science Center
We have been studying the processes of antibody recognition and neutralization of viruses using a combination of virology, biochemistry, cryo-TEM, and X-ray crystallography. Over the years, we have shown that viruses do not hide receptor binding regions from the immune system. Further, we have shown that neutralization does not require, and is unlikely to induce, large conformational changes. In recent results, we have shown that viruses (e.g. the common cold virus) undergoes a ‘breathing’ phenomena that transiently exposes conserved portions of the virion. We are using cryo-TEM to study the structure of the virus during this breathing process and are translating these results to vaccine development. We have also been looking at other viruses as well such as cucumber mosaic virus and mouse norovirus.