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 the biology of positive-sense RNA viruses, a large group of viruses including established and emerging human pathogens. Famous positive-sense RNA viruses include hepatitis C virus (HCV), West Nile virus, dengue virus, SARS coronavirus, norovirus (“stomach flu”) and rhinovirus (the common cold virus). Positive-sense RNA viruses modulate cellular lipid metabolism and remodel intracellular membranes to form viral replication organelles. These replication organelles are platforms for viral replication, but importantly also shield viral RNA from cytoplasmic innate immune sensors, thus helping the virus to avoid cellular antiviral responses that otherwise restrict viral infection. 

We use HCV as a model to understand how positive-sense RNA viruses manipulate cellular membrane biology to form replication organelles, and to study how cells sense and respond to membrane perturbations. Furthermore, HCV is an excellent tool to evaluate how disruption of cellular lipid metabolism contributes to disease pathogenesis (e.g., cancer). Through study of these viral “cell biologists”, we aim to identify novel antiviral therapeutic strategies, while simultaneously uncovering novel aspects of lipid biology and cell intrinsic antiviral immunity.

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