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Working group herpesviruses

Our group works on the replication and pathogenesis of herpesviruses in various animal species, such as equine herpesvirus type 1 and type 4 (EHV-1), Marek’s Disease Virus (MDV) and Varizella Zoster Virus (VZV).

Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 and Type 4

We are examining the role glycoproteins play in the pathogenesis of EHV-1. On the one hand, we are trying to identify viral glycoproteins that are required for entry of EHV-1 and EHV-4 into various cell types. Particularly, we are focusing on glycoproteins B, D and H/L. For other membrane (glyco)proteins, such as glycoprotein G (gG) or the UL49.5 and UL56 (orf1) products, immunomodulatory effects have been documented and we are working to elucidate their mechanisms of action .

We are also working on the development of procedures that will enable the use of EHV-1 as a vector for immune- and/or gene therapy. This will allow us to deliver foreign antigens to equines and other mammals, including humans.

Marek’s Disease Virus

MDV induces highly malignant T-cell lymphomas in its primary host, the chicken. One of the viral factors contributing to tumor formation is viral telomerase RNA (vTR). The virus contains two copies of vTR in its genome, which appear play a direct role in the lymphoma creation and metastasis of tumors. We are currently researching the detailed mechanisms of the tumor-promoting effects of telomerase and vTR.

In the last few years, we have also been able to identify proteins that play important roles in MHC class 1 downregulation and we assume other viral proteins are also involved in thwarting the immune response of the host.

Additionally, we are involved in research for the confirmation of the hypothesis that the expression of glycoprotein C (gC) is involved in tumorgenesis and horizontal virus spread. In this respect, we are interested in variability of wild-type virus genomes in vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals

Varizella Zoster Virus

We were able to reduce the difficulty of producing viral mutants by applying BAC technology to VZV research, enabling us to analyze the function of the VZV ORF9 product, which is essential for growth. Further research is aimed at ORFs involved in immune evasion.