Physical mechanism in the entry and inhibition of emerging enveloped viruses
Enveloped viruses bind to receptors on the cell surface and are then activated for entry by a process of membrane fusion that can take place either on the cell surface or in endosomal compartments. We study the viral conformational dynamics and protein-membrane interactions that control this process using a combination of computational modeling and single-event optical microscopy. Using these methods, we can dissect the roles that cellular receptors play in activating viruses for entry, the nature of downstream triggers for fusion, and the physical forces controlling viral membrane fusion. Integrating computational and spectroscopic methods also permits refinement of conformational equilibria and dynamics controlling the activation of viral glycoproteins and their neutralization by antibodies.