In vitro studies of virus replication
During an infection, a virus enters a cell, disassembles into functional components, and harnesses the cellular machinery to produce multiple copies of itself; these new copies then spread to neighbouring cells. Much of our knowledge of this process relies on data obtained using ensemble methods that report on the averaged properties of millions of molecules. However, using single-molecule techniques, we can now measure the structural and functional properties of single replication complexes in real-time, revealing unique details that may be difficult to see using traditional biology or biochemistry methods.
We use in-vitro single-molecule assays like Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and fluorescence anisotropy, combined with structural modelling, to investigate the mechanisms of replication (RNA binding, initiation, elongation and termination) of RNA viruses.