Ian B. Hogue, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, presented "Virus Transport and Spread" to the Princeton Area Alumni Association (PA3) on May 2, 2014, at the Nassau Club in Princeton, New Jersey.
Dr. Hogue received a B.A. (2003) from the University of California, Berkeley. His Ph.D. (2010) in microbiology and immunology is from the University of Michigan. He has a number of publications to his credit already.
His presentation focused on the way in which herpes viruses move within cells and how they spread between infected cells.
Viruses have been an interest of Dr. Hogue since his undergraduate days. The virus is a substance that can be the carrier of infectious diseases. Despite their importance, many viruses have not been studied extensively. Many of them are little known or not known at all. Human beings may breathe them in easily. Viruses can be underlying factors in worsening disease, moreover.
Viruses are not all dangerous. Some of them are beneficial or helpful. One found in sheep is required for reproduction, for example. Viruses are not like bacteria. Indeed, viruses disappear when they enter cells. They disassemble, in a sense, although they persist.
Dr. Hogue referred to computer "viruses," which can be thought of as similar to biological entities. Computer viruses only refer to information, of course. A biological virus is a physical entity.
Knowledge of infectious agents began in the 17th century when devices, that is, microscopes, developed that could detect micro-organisms. It was theorized that such organisms could spread disease. This was the "germ theory" of disease. Filters could prevent the passage of bacteria, but then new classes of infectious agents were discovered that could penetrate filters, namely viruses.
Although viruses do not directly create tumors, they can transmit them simply by picking up broken cancer-causing copies of our genes. Most cancers are not generated by viruses, but viruses can contribute to the chances of getting cancer. The ultimate goal of viruses is to spread between cells – other effects, such as cancer, are a by-product.
Today, genomes are being used to identify viruses.
The alpha sub-family of herpes viruses can cause chicken pox and shingles, and another version causes cold sores.
The alpha herpes viruses in particular move into the nervous system quickly and fuse with cells in order to enter them and import their viral genes. Factors like stress, fever, and infection can cause changes in cell biology.
Just as is the case with viruses, not
much is really known about cells. Thus, viruses are "great tools" for cell research.
Dr. Hogue finished his talk by showing the audience a movie of flourescent virus particles exiting from an infected cell. A publication describing his work is currently in press and will appear in the scientific journal, PLOS Pathogens.