Zuzana Cieniková

Zuzana Cieniková


Projekt: VirGenEx - Structural Investigation of Viral Genome Release Mechanism

Host Institution: CEITEC Masaryk University

Previous position: Switzerland

Duration: 01. 09. 2017 – 31. 08. 2019



This project focuses on elucidating viral genome organization and the mechanism of its release into host cells for two model species of non-enveloped viruses. It constitutes a continuation of my long-term interest in structural biology and interaction principles of large protein–nucleic acid assemblies.


Last century witnessed an accelerating trend in the emergence or resurgence of human pathogens of viral origin. Viral diseases have high mortality rates and a significant potential to reach pandemic status. Spread of tropical viral diseases, HIV and influenza pandemic, and resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases are cited among the major public-health threats facing Europe and caused by communicable diseases. Many viral pathogens exhibit high mutation and recombination rates allowing them to evade vaccines and treatments. Effective anti-viral therapies will require a multi-tiered approach, targeting simultaneously several stages of viral life-cycle. It is therefore crucial to improve our understanding of viral life-cycle and pathogen-host interaction.


Employing a combination of biochemical and biophysical approaches, we will be able to describe the process of viral genome expulsion from capsids into host cells at an atomic level of detail. These structures will provide a foundation for the rational design of viral genome release inhibitors, furthering the development of new anti-viral therapeutic strategies.


After several years of scientific training abroad, the SoMoPro fellowship gave me the opportunity to develop my own research project while expanding my scientific expertise in the area of integrative structural biology. The South-Moravian region is very competitive with respect to the technical infrastructure and the close collaborations with renowned European research institutions. The opportunities provided by the SoMoPro fellowship will help me to become a well-rounded independent structural biologist capable of undertaking ambitious projects of high biological relevance.