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Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Microbiology, Virology, and Immunology

  • Hengli Tang
    Virus-host cell interactions; Cell biology of HCV replication; Cellular co-factors for HIV and HCV infection.

  • Dr. Qian Yin
    Biochemist and structural biologist dedicated to delineate individual proteins functions and their interactions in innate immunity, inflammation, pathogen-h ost interaction, and autophagy.

  • Fanxiu Zhu
    Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV); viral strategies of immune evasion; functional and structural analysis of gamma-herpesviral tegument.



The Microbiology, Virology, and Immunology group has widely ranging research interests. Microbiology studies are focuses on rhizobial/plant symbiotic interactions. Specifically, how do plants respond to rhizobial determinants to facilitate invasion by the rhizobium? Such studies can reveal fundamental insights into how bacteria invade and survive within eukaryotic cells, and modulate regulatory and signaling pathways to induce host cell morphological changes and differentiation. Several viruses are currently under investigation. Studies of hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication use cell culture models to show that this human pathogen has developed strategies to hijack resources from the host for its own reproduction. Interventions of these strategies may result in novel therapies that help circumvent drug resistance. Studies on Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a human DNA tumor virus associated with several human malignancies, including Kaposiļæ½s sarcoma, are focused on the viral proteins that are localized in the tegument layer, a space between capsid and envelope in the virus particle. This research explores mechanisms by which the virus evades innate immune response and investigates how viral proteins are selectively assembled into the tegument. Research on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is focused on the structural characterization of the virus, especially the envelope (Env) spike residing to the viral surface. These spikes foster viral fusion with target T-helpers cells and macrophages and are the targets for neutralizing antibodies. Several molecular forms of Env are being considered as vaccine candidates. Cryoelectron tomography microscopy is used to generate 3-D images of viruses and its components and can also be used to visualize antibodies attached to the Env spikes. Several diverse areas of immunology are being explored including immune resistance to the viruses listed above, the allergic response to foods, and the structure and immunochemistry of antibodies.