We study how Vaccinia virus hijacks and uses cell systems to understand how they work in health and in disease.
How the billions of cells in the human body develop, work and survive depends on their ability to continually respond and adapt to each other and their environment.
This communication between cells, their environment and each other is called cell signalling. The cytoskeleton is a dynamic network of protein filaments extending throughout cells which gives cells their shape and is involved in cell signalling and other cellular processes such as movement and cell division.
Cell signalling and the cytoskeleton are essential in both setting up and maintaining the extraordinary complexity of how cells are organised and function during development and throughout our lifetimes.
We know that both are incredibly important for human health because of the wide range of developmental syndromes and diseases that result when they do not work. For example, cancers spread when cell signalling breaks down stimulating cells to migrate to inappropriate places in the body.
We use a combination of imaging and biochemical techniques to study how a virus called Vaccinia virus hijacks and uses cell signalling and the cytoskeleton to replicate, spread and survive.
This gives us insights into how cell signalling and the cytoskeleton work in health and disease.