Dr. Hazel Levy

Assistant Professor

University of Florida

College of Medicine

Title: Multi-functional Virus Capsid Proteins

Abstract: The Parvoviridae are a non-enveloped virus family with a single-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (ssDNA) genome encased in a closed, spherical capsid protein shell. This coat protects the genome against degradation, while also serving as the vehicle to navigating a series of environments before releasing the viral genome into the cell’s nucleus. We hypothesize  that surface-exposed regions of the capsid are “sensors” of environmental cues/signals that transmit the signal into peptide and amino acid rearrangements, which are propagated to distal “effector” capsid regions. These rearrangements accumulate toward triggering genome release, the penultimate capsid function before the genome assumes control over the virus’s life cycle. Thus, productive activation of the genome-release trigger is primed by upstream infection events, involving a cascade of peptide rearrangements from the sensing/surface regions to distal effector regions. We test our hypothesis through structure and function studies of genome-releasing, intact capsids. Additionally, Parvoviruses share structural, functional and sequence similarities with the capsid of single-stranded ribonucleic acid (ssRNA) Picornaviruses, which release their genome into the cytoplasm of the host cell. We take and an evolutionary approach to determine underlying themes and variations used to trigger genome uncoating by icosahedral viruses, across taxa.