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AG Krey

Prof. Dr. Thomas Krey is Professor of Structural Virology located at the Institute of Virology, MHH in Hannover.

Research Interests:



Our research is focused on structural studies in order to understand molecular mechanisms that are essential for various steps of the virus cycle.
Our major goals are:


Structural characterization of virus glycoproteins involved in membrane fusion and interactions with the immune system and identification of the determinants of an efficient neutralizing antibody response to facilitate informed vaccine design. During the last years we have contributed the structures of a number of neutralizing epitopes recognized by neutralizing antibodies within the major glycoprotein E2 of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Based on these structures we concluded that the binding site for the cellular receptor CD81 - representing the major target of neutralizing antibodies - is conformationally flexible. This conformational flexibility likely constitutes a novel strategy that HCV utilizes to evade potently neutralizing antibodies.


The recent structural characterization of the C. elegans cell fusion protein EFF-1 revealed that certain effector proteins driving virus-cell fusion and cell-cell fusion are structurally homologous and also share mechanistic similarities. We are currently evaluating, whether - in addition to the structural homology of the effector proteins - both processes also share other common features or key players.


More recently we also started to investigate the mechanism-of-action leading to the assembly and disassembly of large viral capsids, an essential step for the production of virus progeny as well as for the release of the viral genome during virus entry.



We study mostly viruses that constitute a global public health and/or veterinary concern and use structural biology/biophysical methods with a special focus on X-ray crystallography. The structural knowledge gained from our experiments can be used for structure-based design of preventive or curative antiviral agents, i.e., this knowledge has a direct potential for translational medicine. Furthermore, structural studies are often performed in parallel on homologous proteins from related viruses, which provides crucial information about the evolutionary relationship between these viruses and allows the identification of conserved features and/or pathways, which often are the most promising drug targets.



Lab members