The Rihn Group
Viruses display perhaps the greatest biodiversity on Earth. What enables such successful colonisation? We're fascinated by the diverse host and viral factors involved in virus spread. By investigating virus fitness and host defenses from diverse perspectives, our research explores the molecular determinants involved in the emergence, transmission and adaptation of pandemic viruses.
Our work primarily investigates fitness and interferon-related determinants of virus transmission. Until recently, this was largely in the context of HIV-1, where we’ve been interested in HIV-1 transmitted founder viruses, and the molecular factors that enable their successful spread in human hosts.
However, from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to contribute to the molecular virology research response. Correspondingly, we are now expanding our research programme to investigate possible sources of future coronavirus epidemic or pandemic threats. Of the seven confirmed human coronaviruses, five appear to have origins in bats, while two are widely believed to have rodent origins. Could other coronaviruses of bats or rodents have pandemic potential? What factors would enable cross-species transmission of these viruses?
- Along with collaborators, we have established a ‘SARS-CoV-2 and coronavirus molecular toolkit’ that has been used by researchers and public health agencies around the globe to facilitate diverse types of coronavirus research. It has also supported the work in a number of high-impact publications we’ve contributed to (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.037, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abe9403, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.004, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abj3624).
In addition, our recent research has investigated:
- The sensitivity of diverse retroviruses to ISG inhibition
- The species-specific inhibition of Indiana vesiculovirus (VSV) by TRIM69
- The impact of an antiviral effector on the genome composition of the interferome
- Determinants of IFN-resistance in the HIV-1 genome
- The extreme genetic fragility of the HIV-1 capsid
- The comparative robustness of HIV-1 integrase
For more details on our other research, please visit my Google Scholar page: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=nRes60QAAAAJ&hl=en
Research group members
Hollie Jackson Ireland