Daniel Fletcher, Ph.D

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2013
For outstanding contributions to the imaging and analysis of cellular cytomechanics and the translation of his findings into biomedical technologies.

Flu’s clues: A new approach to studying influenza

Via Washington University in St. Louis | December 3, 2018

Scientists have known for decades that a flu virus in a human body can be a lot different than viruses grown in a lab. As opposed to the uniform, spherical, textbook-style viruses in a petri dish, in humans they vary in shape and composition — particularly the abundance of certain proteins — even if they are genetically very similar.

It has been difficult however, to study the exact number and location of these proteins on any individual virus. The go-to method in cell biology involves attaching a fluorescent protein to the area of interest; the light makes the area easier to image and study.

But trying to attach fluorescent proteins to the molecules that make up a flu virus is like trying to get a third person on a tandem bike: There just isn’t room. The fluorescent proteins are about the same size as the flu proteins; introducing such a relatively large element throws the virus out of whack… Continue reading.