The group is led by Dr Dalan Bailey who graduated from the University of Warwick in 2002 with a BSc Honours degree in Virology. Dalan began his career at The Pirbright Institute (formerly the Institute for Animal Health) where he completed his PhD on morbillivirus reverse genetics. He then moved to Imperial College (working for 5 years as a postdoc on caliciviruses) and latterly The University of Birmingham, where he established his laboratory working on measles and respiratory syncytial virus (2013-2017). Dalan returned to Pirbright in 2017 to take up a Group Leader position focusing on the molecular biology of viral glycoproteins, in particular from viruses classified within the Paramyxovirus and Pneumovirus families.
Our group performs focused research on the viral glycoproteins of enveloped RNA viruses. Our aim is to improve our knowledge of this area to support the development of better vaccines, to better understand human and animal disease and also to forewarn future pandemic threats to humans and animals.
Using state-of-the-art proteomics and quantitative entry and exit assays our group focuses on defining the following aspects of viral glycoprotein biology:
We focus on examining the links between viral entry/exit and the innate immune response. We are particularly interested in whether viral glycoproteins from human respiratory viruses (measles virus and respiratory syncytial virus) are targets for the innate immune system in infected cells and how and when this process unfolds during infection. This research is supported by the Medical Research Council.
Attachment and entry:
The interaction between virus particles and host cells is often determined by the specific affinities of viral attachment proteins for their host receptors. The nature, strength and specificity of these interactions plays an important role in determining the mechanisms of particle entry as well as the host range and cell-specificity (tropism) of viruses. These factors, in turn, affect the nature and severity of disease (pathogenesis) caused by the virus. We have recently published research redefining the central dogma of morbillivirus entry and continues to perform research in this area to examine if viral glycoprotein-receptor interactions play a role in the zoonotic transmission of these viruses. We are using the techniques we have developed to examine the neutralising antibody responses generated by candidate vaccines in research supported by Innovate UK.
Budding and release mechanisms:
Viruses such as the paramyxoviruses have evolved two distinct strategies to spread from infected to uninfected cells. The classical strategy is via the formation and release of enveloped infectious particles while the other employs direct cell-to-cell fusion, allowing spread without virion production. Both processes are driven by viral glycoprotein expression, yet result in fundamentally different outcomes. Characterising the mechanisms behind these two processes, as well as the balance between the two during infection, is a key goal of our group.
We are determined to deliver impact at multiple levels of society. From a translational perspective we want to help design better vaccines and vaccination strategies as well as discover new antivirals to fight viral infections. From a research perspective we endeavour to deliver high impact research that will push forward our understanding of virology. Finally at an academic level we are committed to training and mentoring the next generation of virologists.