Tiny perfection

What makes so special to HIV is its capacity to attack the generals of the immunological system: the Lymphocytes T CD4+. These cells coordinate the immune response, sending orders and messages to the soldiers in form of cytokines and chemokines . Without “generals”, the army is condemned to defeat. HIV also has “Achilles heel”… For example, antiretroviral compounds can inhibit the viral functions required for its multiplication in the infected cell, keeping the levels of virus low and allowing the immune system to work. However, its very challenging to eliminate this virus, because it constantly changes its “face” (glycoproteins) to hide from the immune system. HIV mutates very rapidly (1 mutantion each 10,000 nucleotides) allowing fast adaptation against environmental pressures, such as antivirals. In addition, HIV can hide inside the cell in a latent form, which can be activated again when the proper stimulus arrives. We are still far to understand the mechanisms underlying the transitions between the active state and the latency…   This could be the key for the elimination of HIV.

Here you will see the images about HIV and infected cells released in Cell-Press: http://www.cell.com/pictureshow/hiv

HIV virion099

HIV virion                                                      HIV maturation


HIV leaving the infected cell                       Infected dendritic cell and lymphocytes

DPhil programmes

The lab is currently seeking for outstanding graduate students willing to apply to the Department of Biochemistry DPhil programme. Applications should be completed before January 9th. The aim of the project is to determine the scope of host proteins involved in HIV RNA metabolism. This research will not only improve our understanding of viral infection, but may be instrumental to identify new therapeutic targets. Do not hesitate to contact us to request more information.

See: http://www.bioch.ox.ac.uk/aspsite/index.asp?sectionid=graduate

A new universe of RNA-binding proteins

RNA biology is orchestrated by the interplay of RNAs with RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) within dynamic ribonucleoproteins (RNPs). As a postdoctoral fellow in Matthias Hentze’s laboratory (EMBL), I developed a new method for comprehensive identification of RBPs in living cells, which we named “mRNA interactome capture” (Castello et al., Nat Prot., 2013). Applied to HeLa cells, this protocol revealed 860 high-confidence RBPs, adding hundreds of novel members to the previously known atlas of RBPs (Castello et al., Cell, 2012). The HeLa mRNA interactome uncovered unanticipated links between RNA biology and intermediary metabolism, the cellular redox state, antiviral response, and human diseases (Castello et al., Trends in genetics, 2013). I will apply new methods built on “mRNA interactome capture” to investigate the role of RBPs in infection and disease.

Postdoctoral research associate


This is an MRC-funded full time position in HIV biology. The work will be carried out in the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Oxford and we will collaborate with top laboratories in Oxford, Heidelberg University and EMBL. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to request more info and submit your application HERE.

Before applying, it is recommended to read the following publication:

Insights into RNA Biology from an Atlas of Mammalian mRNA-Binding Proteins
Alfredo Castello, Bernd Fischer, Katrin Eichelbaum, Rastislav Horos, Benedikt M Beckmann, Claudia Strein, Norman E Davey, David T Humphreys, Thomas Preiss, Lars M Steinmetz, Jeroen Krijgsveld, Matthias W Hentze. Cell. 2012