Tatyana Golovkina - Research Summary

Dr. Golovkina’s research projects focus on how genetic variations result in susceptibility or resistance to retrovirus infections.  By using virus-resistant mice Golovkina’s laboratory explores how retroviral infections trigger the immune response capable of controlling the invaders.  By using virus-susceptible mice the laboratory is interested in uncovering the mechanisms retroviruses evolved to counteract recognition by the host protective defenses.
All invading pathogens encounter a large number of commensal bacterial species which colonize and reside in the host.  The laboratory is interested in studying the possible interactions between incoming pathogens and resident bacteria.  Their recent studies have revealed that resident bacteria assist some retroviruses in efficient transmission.  By using germ-free mice, they found that retroviruses that spread through the gastrointestinal route exploit commensal bacteria to induce tolerance to themselves.  Unresponsiveness of the infected host enables the viruses to persist indefinitely.  Elucidation of the mechanism of retroviral transmission/pathogenesis is of fundamental importance, as it will ultimately lead to increased knowledge about the anti-virus immune response in general and variations in susceptibility to viral infections in humans.