Alphaherpesviruses include widespread and important pathogens of man and animal. For different human (e.g. herpes simplex virus) and veterinary (e.g. equine herpesvirus 1) alphaherpesviruses, there is an urgent need for (improved) vaccines and room for new antivirals.
Herpesviruses have evolved a carefully balanced interaction with their host cell, including different interactions with the intracellular communication system, the so-called signaling networks. One very important signaling network, which is also involved in activating the immune system that protects the body against infections, is the NFκB signaling network.
The candidate of the current application has very recently discovered a new interaction of the porcine alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies (PRV, closely related to HSV) with the NFκB signaling network. This interactions consists of NFκB activation by the conserved viral glycoprotein gB. In the current project, the candidate will investigate in which cell types of the host this gB-NFκB signaling is activated, the mechanism underlying this gB-NFκB signaling and the consequences of this gB-NFκB, both for the virus and for the host. In addition, he will investigate why a successful PRV vaccine (Bartha) shows reduced expression of gB and reduced activation of NFκB. All these data will be instrumental to determine whether interfering with this gB-NFκB signaling axis may have potential for the design of future alphaherpesvirus vaccines and antivirals.