Barbie Ganser-Pornillos


  • PhD, University of Utah
  • BS, MONTANA TECH of University MONTANA

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics


Research Interest(s)

The Structural Biology of HIV assembly

Research Description

There are two morphologically distinct forms of the HIV-1 virus, called immature and mature. The immature virion is the form that initially assembles and initiates budding from the plasma membrane. During or immediately after budding, the viral protease is activated and catalyzes a process termed maturation that results in a reorganization of the immature virus into the mature infectious form. The mature HIV-1 virion has a centrally located conical core. The core is composed of a protein capsid that encapsulates two copies of the RNA genome and many of the cellular and viral factors that are necessary to initiate a new infection within the cell. Our overall goal is to develop atomic resolution structures of the immature and mature capsids and to understand, in molecular detail, how the virus reorganizes during maturation.

In addition, we are also interested in cellular factors that bind to the immature and mature capsid. Recently, we have been studying a protein called TRIM5a - a member of the host's innate immune system - that is capable of recognizing the incoming mature capsid and targeting it for destruction.

We use a "hybrid methods" approach that combines molecular biology, biochemistry, high-resolution electron microscopy, and x-ray crystallography.

Selected Publications

  • Ganser-Pornillos B, Yeager M, Pornillos O. Assembly and architecture of HIV. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. 2012;726 441-65. PMID: 22297526
  • Yeager M, Dryden K, Ganser-Pornillos B. Lipid monolayer and sparse matrix screening for growing two-dimensional crystals for electron crystallography: methods and examples. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2012;955 527-37. PMID: 23132079 | PMCID: PMC4127334
  • Pornillos O, Ganser-Pornillos B, Yeager M. Atomic-level modelling of the HIV capsid. Nature. 2011;469(7330): 424-7. PMID: 21248851 | PMCID: PMC3075868
  • Ganser-Pornillos B, Chandrasekaran V, Pornillos O, Sodroski J, Sundquist W, Yeager M. Hexagonal assembly of a restricting TRIM5alpha protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2010;108(2): 534-9. PMID: 21187419 | PMCID: PMC3021009
  • Pornillos O, Ganser-Pornillos B, Banumathi S, Hua Y, Yeager M. Disulfide bond stabilization of the hexameric capsomer of human immunodeficiency virus. Journal of molecular biology. 2010;401(5): 985-95. PMID: 20600115 | PMCID: PMC3050670
  • Pornillos O, Ganser-Pornillos B, Kelly B, Hua Y, Whitby F, Stout C, Sundquist W, Hill C, Yeager M. X-ray structures of the hexameric building block of the HIV capsid. Cell. 2009;137(7): 1282-92. PMID: 19523676 | PMCID: PMC2840706
  • Ganser-Pornillos B, Yeager M, Sundquist W. The structural biology of HIV assembly. Current opinion in structural biology. 2008;18(2): 203-17. PMID: 18406133 | PMCID: PMC2819415
  • Ganser-Pornillos B, Cheng A, Yeager M. Structure of full-length HIV-1 CA: a model for the mature capsid lattice. Cell. 2007;131(1): 70-9. PMID: 17923088 | PMCID: NIHMS32125
  • Hanson M, Brooun A, Baker K, Jaakola V, Roth C, Chien E, Alexandrov A, Velasquez J, Davis L, Griffith M, Moy K, Ganser-Pornillos B, Hua Y, Kuhn P, Ellis S, Yeager M, Stevens R. Profiling of membrane protein variants in a baculovirus system by coupling cell-surface detection with small-scale parallel expression. Protein expression and purification. 2007;56(1): 85-92. PMID: 17723307 | PMCID: PMC2274776
  • Benjamin J, Ganser-Pornillos B, Tivol W, Sundquist W, Jensen G. Three-dimensional structure of HIV-1 virus-like particles by electron cryotomography. Journal of molecular biology. 2005;346(2): 577-88. PMID: 15670606
  • Ganser-Pornillos B, von Schwedler U, Stray K, Aiken C, Sundquist W. Assembly properties of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 CA protein. Journal of virology. 2004;78(5): 2545-52. PMID: 14963157 | PMCID: PMC369201
  • Ganser B, Cheng A, Sundquist W, Yeager M. Three-dimensional structure of the M-MuLV CA protein on a lipid monolayer: a general model for retroviral capsid assembly. The EMBO journal. 2003;22(12): 2886-92. PMID: 12805204 | PMCID: PMC162131
  • Ganser B, Li S, Klishko V, Finch J, Sundquist W. Assembly and analysis of conical models for the HIV-1 core. Science (New York, N.Y.). 1999;283(5398): 80-3. PMID: 9872746
  • Stierle D, Stierle A, Ganser B. Isolation of two highly methylated polyketide derivatives from a yew-associated penicillium species Journal of natural products. 1999;62(8): 1147-50. PMID: 10479323
  • Stierle D, Stierle A, Ganser B. New phomopsolides from a Penicillium sp. Journal of natural products. 1997;60(11): 1207-9. PMID: 9392888