Dr David Bhella
- Programme Leader (Centre for Virus Research)
The structural components of viruses represent an intriguing area of study for the structural biologist. In their replication cycle, viruses must generate a protective shell (or capsid) to ferry their genome between hosts. These structural proteins may also be required to facilitate entry to and exit from the host cell, as well as packaging the genome and the necessary functional proteins. In many cases structural proteins are also involved in replication and integration of the viral genome. Thus virus particles are dynamic entities, molecular machines evolved to provide a robust protective shell for the genome and capable of undergoing dramatic conformational changes upon infection of a host cell and in response to specific environmental stimuli.
The fact that many viruses generate their capsids from only one or two protein species makes them all the more remarkable. Viruses attain this level of economy by assembling their capsids in a highly symmetrical manner making these structures not only scientifically interesting but also beautiful.
This group applies the techniques of electron-cryomicroscopy and image analysis to the study of viruses. We are equipped with a high-performance JEOL 2200 cryo-microscope suitable both for high-resolution analysis of symmetrical entities e.g. icosahedral and helical viruses, and for tomographic reconstruction of asymmetrical objects such as enveloped viruses and virus-infected cells. We also have facilities for correlative cryo-fluorescence imaging, high-pressure freezing, automated freeze substitution and cryo-ultramicrotomy. The establishment of these capabilities within a dedicated virus research laboratory gives us an exciting opportunity to visualise the process of virus infection at cellular scale and macromolecular resolution.
We are currently engaged in research into caliciviruses, influenzaviruses and paramyxoviruses (respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza viruses and measles virus).
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Characterisation of Zika virus neutralisation and virion structure by cryogenic electron microscopy and 3D reconstruction.
Medical Research Council
2016 - 2017
- A structure analysis of the intact virion and replicative complexes of human respiratory syncytial virus
Medical Research Council
2014 - 2017
- Initiation and regulation of RSV mRNA transcription and genome replication
National Institutes of Health (NIAID)
2014 - 2015
Centre for Virus Research,
Sir Michael Stoker Building,
464 Bearsden Road,