Contact information

Kalle Saksela

Principal Investigator
Kalle Saksela, MD, PhD
Professor of Virology
Chairman, Department of Virology

Haartman Institute
Department of Virology
PO Box 21 (Haartmaninkatu 3)
00014 University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 2941 26770
Fax +358 2941 26491

Protein interactions in cellular signaling and virus-host cell interplay

Virus replication depends on the protein machinery of the host cell, which viruses have evolved to regulate and exploit in numerous and elaborate ways. Molecular understanding of these interactions is a key challenge in modern research in virology, and can provide valuable insights into the basic mechanism that regulate normal and pathological cellular behavior.

The HIV Nef protein has been a key subject of our research, Nef modifies host cell physiology to better support viral replication by binding to proteins involved in cellular signal structures via their SH3 domains. SH3 domains are the most ubiquitous class of modular protein binding units found in the nature. SH3 domains mediate many key regulatory processes in normal cells and are involved the pathomechanisms of many important diseases. It appears that many other viral proteins also share the capacity of Nef to utilize binding to host cell SH3 proteins in order to mediate their functions. Identification of normal SH3-mediated cellular protein interaction networks as well as SH3-interactions that take place between cellular and pathogenic viral proteins, and elucidation of the molecular basis of binding affinity and specificity involved in these interactions are the main topics goals of our research.