Our group is interested in the replication and pathogenesis of animal herpesviruses such as equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), Marek's disease virus (MDV), varicella zoster virus (VZV) and phocine herpesvirus type 1 (PhHV-1).
One of our aims is the investigation of EHV-1 glycoproteins and their role in pathogenesis. Some of them like glycoprotein G (gG) or the UL49.5 product have been shown to have immunomodulatory properties. We want to evaluate virulence and mechanisms of pathogenesis through in vitro and in vivo testing of established and new mutant viruses.
Furthermore, we are working on the development of EHV-1 as an immunization and/or gene therapy vector for equines, other mammals and even humans. Mutants expressing antigens from West Nile virus, equine and avian influenza virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and human hepatitis C virus have already been tested in mice and it is planned to administer them to the target animal species.
The identification of proteins that may play an important role in MHC class I downregulation is the basis for further research on the targeted interference of the virus with the host's immune response to infection.
In chicken, the primary host of MDV, the virus induces a highly malignant T cell lymphoma. The fact that MDV harbors two copies of a viral telomerase RNA (vTR) seems to play a direct role in lymphomagenesis and tumor metastasis. We investigate the detailed mechanisms of the tumor-promoting effects of telomerase.
We are also working on the role of glycoprotein C (gC) in tumor formation and horizontal virus spread.
So far, we focused our research on the investigation of the structural function of the ORF9 protect, a putative tegument protein which has shown to be essential for virus growth. We now plan to analyze open reading frames that are involved in immune evasion and localized at genomic termini.
Website OSTERRIEDER LAB Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.