Welcome to the Colpitts lab!

We are part of the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

We study virus-host interactions, focusing on positive-sense RNA viruses such as Flaviviridae (hepatitis C virus and dengue virus) and Coronaviridae (HCoV-229E and SARS-CoV-2), with the aim of identifying targets for novel antiviral strategies. One theme of our research focuses on the roles of glycans in coronavirus entry and pathogenesis, aiming to understand the roles of cellular and viral glycans in viral entry into target cells. Furthermore, viral glycoproteins such as SARS-CoV-2 spike protein have been shown to activate the pattern recognition receptor TLR4, which leads to induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and may contribute to the cytokine storm associated with SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. We are characterizing the mechanisms underlying spike activation of TLR4, which may help to identify new treatment strategies to provide therapeutic benefit in the context of viral cytokine storms

Another theme of our research focuses on the roles of cellular cyclophilins in the replication and immune evasion of positive-sense RNA viruses (hepatitis C virus, dengue virus, and coronaviruses). These positive-sense RNA viruses rearrange host intracellular membranes to form membranous viral replication organelles (ROs) in the cytoplasm of infected cells. We are evaluating the roles of cyclophilins in RO formation, and in the antagonism of cellular antiviral responses by these viruses. Finally, we are characterizing how cells sense and respond to these membrane rearrangements induced by positive-sense RNA viruses. Overall, our goal is to identify conserved targets for novel antiviral strategies that are broadly active against emerging and currently untreatable positive-sense RNA viruses.

We are always interested in hearing from enthusiastic students – if this sounds interesting, or you’d like to learn more, please get in touch!