Darrell L Peterson, Ph.D.Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
PO Box 980614
Richmond, VA 23298-0614
- Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 1970
- B.S., University of Notre Dame, 1966
University of Iowa, 1972-1975
The overall research interests of the laboratory are concerned with the structure and function of viral proteins. The major emphasis is currently on the proteins if the hepatitis B virus, certain retroviruses, and influenza viruses.
Many of the proteins of interest are complex, lipid associated glycoproteins. Detailed knowledge of the structure and arrangement of these proteins should allow the identification of these structural domains of the proteins which specify such functional activities as antigenicity of virus/receptor interaction. This information could allow the synthesis of corresponding peptides or proteins by chemical or molecular biological methods for the use as vaccines, diagnostic reagents, or as model components for studying viral pathogenesis or morphogenesis.
In order to accomplish these goals a wide variety of physical and chemical techniques are being utilized. These have included high resolution electron microscopy, solution X-ray scattering, circular dichroism, and Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy to study the structure of the proteins. In addition chemical modification, peptide synthesis, and oligonucleotide directed site-specific mutagenesis are used in conjunction with a wide variety of monoclonal antibodies to assess the role of specific amino acids in the antigenic activity of the proteins.
All of these studies involve the isolation of the viral proteins by various physical and chemical techniques and the development of suitable peptide mapping and sequencing methods. Routine use is made of techniques such as fluorescent amino acid liquid chromatography in order to obtain information from nanomole amounts of proteins.