Welcome to the Hafenstein Lab
A structural study offers a powerful tool of direct visualization that can guide and complement other research approaches. Cryo electron microscopy (CryoEM) allows three-dimensional imaging at the subcellular level, filling a gap between the atomic resolution provided by NMR and Xray, and visualization by light microscopy of larger entities such as bacteria, whole cells and organelles.
We use a structural approach to learn more about viral infectivity, tropism, evolution and pathogenicity. Of particular interest are conformational changes of the virus capsid structure that occur as a response to key events that direct a successful infection, such as receptor binding prior to host entry. We are also developing approaches to visualize critical events that cause a break from the regular symmetry of the virus, including packaging of the genome, receptor usage, antibody interactions and uncoating of the viral genome during the final stages of infection.