LMCB - MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

Jason Mercer's picture

LMCB Group Leader, UCL Reader in Viral Cell Biology

+44 (0)20 7679 3528
LMCB Room B101

Twitter @MercerLab


Viral Cell Biology

Research Synopsis

As obligate intracellular parasites viruses intimately rely on host cell factors for all stages of their replication.  Our group is interested in deciphering the complex interactions that occur between poxviruses and their host cells during all stages of the infection cycle. We investigate how viruses initiate their internalization by endocytosis, and how they utilize transport within cellular endocytic systems to their advantage.  We are also analyzing how the viral genome and accessory proteins escape into the cytosol, and how replication proceeds.
For these we combine cellular, molecular, and virological techniques with state-of-the-art technologies such as automated small compound and image-based siRNA screening, advanced proteomics, super-resolution, live cell microscopy, and electron microscopy. Our particular interests lie in uncovering novel mechanisms by which viruses subjugate host cell functions to facilitate their entry, replication, and spread.

Selected Publications

Gray RD, et al (2016). VirusMapper: open-source nanoscale mapping of viral architecture through super-resolution microscopy. Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 4;6:29132. doi: 10.1038/srep29132.
Amara A & Mercer J (2015). Viral apoptotic mimicry. Nat Rev Microbiol. Aug;13(8):461-9. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3469. Epub 2015 Jun 8. Review. PMID: 26052667
Kilcher S, et al (2014). siRNA screen of early poxvirus genes identifies the AAA+ ATPase D5 as the virus genome-uncoating factor. Cell Host Microbe. 2014 Jan 15;15(1):103-12. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2013.12.008.
Schmidt FI, et al (2013). Vaccinia virus entry is followed by core activation and proteasome-mediated release of the immunomodulatory effector VH1 from lateral bodies. Cell Rep. Aug 15;4(3):464-76. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.06.028. Epub 2013 Jul 25.
Schmidt FI, et al (2011). Vaccinia extracellular virions enter cells by macropinocytosis and acid-activated membrane rupture. EMBO J.  Jul 26;30(17):3647-61. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.245.
Mercer J & Helenius A (2008). Vaccinia virus uses macropinocytosis and apoptotic mimicry to enter host cells. Science. Apr 25;320(5875):531-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1155164.


Medical Research Council
Wellcome Trust
European Research Council

Research Themes

Cytoskeleton, Signalling pathways, Membrane trafficking, Viral pathogens


Light microscopy, Electron microscopy, Super-resolution microscopy, High-content screening, Electron Microscopy


Artur Yakimovich (Research Associate)
David Albrecht (Research Associate)
Jennifer Wood (Research Associate)
Victoria Gould (Research Associate)
Susanna Bidgood (Research Associate)
Moona Huttunen (Research Associate)
Melanie Krause (PhD student)
Harriet Mok (PhD student)
Noelia Garcia Calavia (PhD student)
Caroline Martin (PhD student)
Jerzy Samolej (PhD student)
Corina Beerli (PhD student)
Robert Gray (PhD student)
Laura Pokorny (PhD student)


Mark Marsh (LMCB, UK)
Ricardo Henriques (LMCB, UK)
Janos Kriston-Vizi (LMCB, UK)