The structure and function of viral Bcl-2 homologues
Our description of the 3-d structures of myxoma virus M11L and vaccinia virus F1L revealed that both share structural homology with the mammalian Bcl-2 pro-survival proteins, although neither has any sequence similarity to their mammalian counterparts. We were also able to directly show for the first time that viral proteins of this class bind to BH3 only proteins. More recently we have extended this observation to the Epstein Barr Virus pro-survival protein BHRF1 and captured its structure in complex with the BH3 only protein Bim. Ongoing studies are directed at elucidating the critical protein-protein interactions in which these viral proteins engage in order to prolong the life of the infected cell.