Wesley I. Sundquist, Ph.D.Professor of Biochemistry
15 North Medical Drive East RM 4100
Phone: (801) 585-5402
Our laboratory studies the molecular virology and structural biology of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. We are currently focused on trying to understand four different aspects of the viral life cycle; 1) the mechanisms underlying virus assembly and release from cells, 2) the ways in which HIV uses cellular proteins to enhance viral replication, 3) the three dimensional structure of the virus, and 4) innate immune systems that allow cells to fight back against the virus. Understanding how HIV uses host cell pathways to assembly and complete other viral functions is contributing to our understanding of fundamental cell biology and viral pathogenesis, as well as providing attractive new targets for the development of HIV inhibitors. Although existing AIDS treatments are largely successful in the developed world, the identification of new HIV targets and inhibitors is critically important owing to emerging problems with drug resistance. Research our lab (as well as many others) has already contributed to the development of new virus assembly inhibitors and, in the longer term, we believe that understanding how cells can defend themselves against viral attack can lead to new therapeutic strategies that enhance these intrinsic cellular defense mechanisms.
This past year, our research accomplishments have included: 1) determining how the cellular protein, ALIX, is activated to function in HIV release (together with Chris Hill and colleagues)1, 2) participating in a large consortium study that completed a comprehensive survey of the host proteins that bind all of the different HIV proteins2, 3) describing the development of two new classes of anti-HIV inhibitors that function by blocking viral assembly (together with our collaborators at Boehringer Ingelheim)3, and 4) creating a new method for improving the efficiency of genetic analyses using the method of RNA interference. We have also recently received a five-year renewal of our P50 NIH award designating us as one of the national “Centers for the Studies of the Structural Biology of HIV/Host Interactions”. Center funds will support collaborative studies between laboratories here at the University of Utah, and from The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA), Caltech (Los Angeles, CA), Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA), The University of Chicago (Chicago, IL), Northwestern University (Chicago, IL), and The University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA).
- Zhai et al. (2011) J Virol 85, 9222-6.
- Jäger et al. (2012) Nature, 481, 365-70.
- Lemke et al. (2012) J Virol 86, 6643-55.
- Morita et al. (2012) BioTechniques, epublication date 2012/08/11, 1-5.