The Tsai lab is comprised of highly-motivated and talented graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from all over the world who share common goals – to unravel the mysteries of how viruses cause disease at the molecular level, and to illuminate fundamental protein quality control mechanisms. If these topics fascinate you, please contact us.

There are two major projects in the Tsai lab:

1. Elucidating the molecular mechanism of virus entry.

We study entry of DNA tumor viruses including polyomavirus and human papillomavirus, as well as RNA viruses such as Zika virus and Dengue virus. In both cases, we seek to understand how the viruses exploit host machineries to promote infection. Our vision is that illuminating the molecular basis by which these viruses causes infection will lead to novel therapeutics that will be effective in combating virus-induced diseases.

2. Clarifying ER protein quality control mechanisms.

Misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are cleared by the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) and ER-coupled autophagy (ER-phagy) pathways. Our recent analysis revealed that cells can simultaneously deploy both of these pathways to remove a misfolded substrate such as misfolded proinsulin. How this is accomplished is the focus of our research.