Tufts University, 2006, BA (Biochemistry)
Columbia University, 2012, PhD (Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics)
The Avgousti lab is focused on the mechanisms by which viruses hijack chromatin. Due to the major advancement in sequencing technologies and the expansion of the field of epigenetics, exploiting viruses to investigate chromatin biology has enormous potential. Our goal is to advance basic understanding of viral manipulation of chromatin and uncover new aspects of chromatin biology.
Much like the cellular genome, viral genomes must be compacted in virus particles with small basic molecules to maximize space and be poised for gene expression. Some DNA viruses use cellular histone proteins to compact their genomes whereas others use small basic molecules. Adenoviruses encode their own histone-like protein, called protein VII, that forms a ‘beads on a string’ assembly with the viral genome. We are interested in how adenovirus manipulates host chromatin through protein VII and more broadly how DNA viruses use histones or histone-like proteins for dual function: to compact their genomes and control host genomes.
Current research in the lab uses a multidisciplinary approach to address the following questions:
How does adenovirus protein VII impact nuclear architecture? The expression of protein VII in cells is sufficient to increase nuclear size and markedly disrupt the appearance of cellular chromatin (Avgousti et al, Nature 2016 and J. Virol. 2017). Current efforts focus on the molecular mechanisms of this disruption.
How does herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) affect host chromatin? Epi-proteomic analysis (Kulej and Avgousti et al, MCP 2017) revealed that hundreds of host proteins are regulated during lytic HSV-1 infection, including many chromatin factors. Projects will investigate how HSV-1 regulates host chromatin factors for viral benefit.
Scientists Reveal New Mechanism Adenovirus Uses to Sabotage Immune System
June 30, 2016 | Cornerstone (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute)
CHOP Experts Report How a Virus Silences the Immune System’s Alarm Signals
June 29, 2016 | CHOP News (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute)
Viral protein silences immune alarm signals
June 29, 2016 | Science News
CHOP Honors Distinguished Research Trainees on Poster Day
Mar. 01, 2016 | Cornerstone (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute)