The Hutchinson group

Ed Hutchinson research

Influenza viruses cause seasonal and pandemic influenza in humans as well as outbreaks of disease in domesticated animals. We are interested in their molecular biology, particularly the ways in which viral and host proteins function together during an infection. Our work aims to relate changes in influenza virion composition to infectivity, and to examine how viral replication is regulated by chemical modifications of proteins.

Current Research

A schematic illustrating the viral and host proteins that make up an influenza virion.


Relating the protein composition of influenza virions to their ability to infect cells. 

This builds on a study of influenza virions which obtained the first complete and quantified description of their protein composition (Hutchinson et al. (2014) Nature Communications). 

We are now interested in exploring how changes in virion composition – due, for example, to changes in the host species – alter infectivity. We are also interested in similarities between the composition of virions and of microvesicles shed naturally by the host, and in whether microvesicles therefore play a role in influenza infections.  


Influenza filaments sprouting from the surface of infected cells.


Characterising Filamentous Influenza Viruses 

Laboratory-adapted strains of influenza virus typically form spherical virions. In contrast, clinical isolates are also able to produce extremely long filamentous virions. These filaments have been noted in the literature for many years, but most research has concentrated on spherical virions and the distinctive structure and functional importance of filaments has only recently become apparent (see Dadonaite et al. (2016) Journal of General Virology).  In collaboration with the Bhella group we are working to characterise the composition of influenza filaments and relate this to their functions in an infection.  


A phosphorylation site (red) whose position allows it to regulate the interaction of two viral nucleoproteins (grey).


Determining how changes in chemical modifications regulate viral replication 

We are examining how post-translational modifications of viral and host proteins regulate cellular signalling during infection, and hope to identify ways of targeting this to limit viral replication. This builds on work which identified specific sites of protein phosphorylation on viral proteins (Hutchinson et al. (2012) PLOS Pathogens) and linked this to specific regulatory roles of phosphorylation in infection (e.g. Turrell et al. (2015) Journal of Virology).


A protocol for influenza virion purification can be found here

Mass spectra from published studies can be downloaded from MassIVE using the IDs MSV000078740 and MSV000078741. 

Research group members

Jack Hirst
PhD Student



Lea Meyer
Research Associate 


Profile picture of Anna Sims

Anna Sims
PhD Student

Seema Jasim
Research Associate 



Elizabeth Sloan
Research Associate