Dr. Moshe Dessau

Structural biology of infectious diseases: RNA viruses entry and invasion of eukaryotic parasites
Dr. Moshe Dessau
Bar-Ilan Email: 
Academic field: 
Structural Biology
Research field: 
Structural biology of infectious diseases


In our lab we use structural and biophysical approchs for studying the organization and dynamics of macromolecular assemblies. Our goal of the research is to determine how protein structure and interactions determine the guiding principles and mechanisms of viral and parasitic infection. We generally interested in two different systems:

How do viruses assemble and how do they enter and exit the cells they infect? Can we combine our structural understanding of viral entry with progressive methods in biophysics and cell biology to develop novel strategies for vaccine design?

We are particularly interested in creating a complete structural narrative for the penetration of viruses into their host-cell. To release their genome into the cytoplasm, enveloped viruses required to attach to their host-cell and undergo a membrane fusion step in which the viral membrane fuses with the host-cell endosomal membrane. The glycoproteins on the virus surface are key components of these events. Structural analyses of these proteins are at the central part in our research. Viral structural proteins are also the major antigens recognized by protective antibodies. Understanding the mechanism of action of neutralizing antibodies will provide novel information for vaccine design.

What are the unique structural features of eukaryotic parasites? How can we exploit structural investigation of unique biological processes in eukaryotic parasites to design novel therapeutics?

Almost One-third of the global burden of human disease comes from diverse array of human parasites therefore there is an urgent and pressing public health need for research on parasites. The complexity of parasites life cycle and biology poses a major challenge for understanding their mode of action at the molecular level. Parasites have many unique and fascinating processes that are not found in other eukaryotes. By using structural biology, the most powerful tool for understanding protein function at the atomic level, our goal is to identify drug targets or vaccine candidates. Our vision is that by determine macromolecular structures from parasite pathogens would provide invaluable mechanistic insights on vital processes of the parasites and would suggest novel strategies for inhibiting infection