James Conway
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone (412) 383-9847
Fax (412) 648-8998

University of Pittsburgh
2047 Biomedical Science Tower 3


James Conway

Associate Professor
Department of Structural Biology

Study the structure and function of macromolecular complexes, such as virus capsids, using cryo-electron microscopy and combining this with subunit atomic models to extend interpretation into details of the protein folds and interfaces. Particular systems being studied include herpesviruses and dsDNA bacteriophages such as HK97, SPO1, T5 and others, These tailed phages have important structural similarities with each other and also with animal viruses such as herpesvirus, suggesting that there may be a long evolutionary connection between them. The dynamic aspects of the virus lifecycle – assembly, DNA packaging, infection and DNA delivery – are often better suited to cryoEM study than crystallography. Although current resolutions achieved for icosahedral capsids are between 10-20Å, this is steadily improving as new procedures are developed, such as automated data collection and high-speed data analysis. Lower symmetry structures, such as entire virus or phage particles, requires more data and achieve lower resolution but also benefit from these advances. Ultimately, we aim to characterize the structural and functional repertoire of a virus throughout its lifecycle, which will have benefits in understanding protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions as well as the evolution of protein structure, and in developing new targets for interfering with viral infection and replication, and technological application of the knowledge.

Visit Conway's lab website

Education & Training

Massey University, Palmerstrom, North New Zealand
B.S. 1985 in Physics

Massey University, Palmerston North New Zealand
Ph.D. 1989 in Biophysics

National Institues of Health
Bethesda, MD 1990 - 1996

Awards & Honors

1986    Fibrous Proteins Merit Award, Massey University 
1997    Special Achievement Award, NIAMS/NIH, In recognition and appreciation of special achievement
1998    Group Merit Award, NIAMS/NIH, In recognition of pioneering contributions to image processing, advancing the resolution attainable in biological electron microscopy

Representative Publications

Lee H, Brendle SA, Bywaters SM, Guan J, Ashley RE, Yoder JD, Makhov AM, Conway JF, Christensen ND & Hafenstein S. A CryoEM study identifies the complete H16.V5 epitope and reveals global conformational changes initiated by binding of the neutralizing antibody fragment. J Virol 89, 1428-1438, 2015

Shingler KL, Cifuente JO, Ashley RE, Makhov AM, Conway JF & Hafenstein S. The enterovirus 71 procapsid binds neutralizing antibodies and rescues virus infection in vitro. J Virol 89, 1900-1908, 2015.

Sattar S, Bennett NJ, Wen WX, Guthrie JM, Blackwell LF, Conway JF & Rakonjac J. Ff-nano, short functionalized nanorods derived from Ff (f1, fd or M13) filamentous bacteriophage. Frontiers in Microbiology (Virology) 6, 316, 2015.

Guan J, Bywaters SM, Brendle SA, Lee H, Ashley RE, Makhov AM, Conway JF, Christensen ND & Hafenstein S. Structural comparison of four different antibodies interacting with human papillomavirus 16 and mechanisms of neutralization. Virology 483, 253-263, 2015.

Tandon R, Mocarski ES and Conway JF. The A, B, Cs of herpesvirus capsids. Viruses 7, 899-914. 2015.

Read Full PubMed Profile

Active Grants

Direct Electron Detecting (DED) Camer
04/01/15 – 03/31/16
National Institutes of Health

Structure and Function of the Herpesvirus Capsid
08/15/11 – 07/31/20
National Institutes of Health

Structural Determinants of Amelogenin Function in Regulating Enamel Formation
09/01/12 – 08/31/17
National Institutes of Health

Inborn Errors of Long Chain Fat Metabolism
07/01/07 – 03/31/16
National Institutes of Health

Roles of Cytomegalovirus Proteins pp150 and pUL96 in Virus Maturation
11/01/14 – 10/31/19
National Institutes of Health