Student Spotlight Archives

Magdalena (Maggi) Krzyzaniak

Magdalena (Maggi) Krzyzaniak has been a doctoral candidate in the department of microbiology since 2003. She has received the David E. Wells memorial scholarship award for the most outstanding proposition and qualifying exam.

When asked about her research, Maggi replied, “We are working on mechanisms of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) assembly. This large DNA virus is a member of the human herpesvirus family and is an important cause of disease in humans. Infections with HCMV are very common (around 60% population of USA is positive for HCMV), but disease is usually only observed in immune compromised hosts. Although considerable research has been devoted to understanding HCMV replication, little is known about mechanisms of virus assembly inside the host cells. We study the role of an envelope protein complex comprised of two viral glycoproteins, gM and gN, in virion assembly. The gM/gN complex is located in the membrane surrounding the virus and both proteins are necessary for virus replication. During infection of human cells these proteins are expressed and rapidly form a complex that accumulates in a distinct cellular compartment. Interestingly the gM protein contains special trafficking sequences that function in the cell as an “address” sending proteins to the appropriate cellular compartment during infection. We have made mutations of the HCMV genome sequence which targeted these motifs and have altered the localization of this complex in infected cells. In some cases, alterations in these motifs prevented the assembly of infectious viral progeny. Understanding of the HCMV assembly will give us important insights into the biology this human virus and will contribute to the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs.”

Maggi is proud to be a part of the UAB family. She decided to study here because UAB’s research investigators are recognized all over the world, giving students the opportunity to learn from experts in their respective fields. When asked what her most reward experience at UAB has been she replied, “I am glad to work in a diverse environment; I have had a chance to meet people from many distant places in the world. UAB in general provides a great work and study atmosphere for such a diverse community. From the very first day, I felt good about being at UAB.”

After graduation, Maggi plans to work in academia as a virologist.