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Plant Virus Protein Research Group (I.Baļķe lab)

Plant virus protein research group has emerged from Plant virology group which focuses are towards plant VLP based vaccine platform development. Up until our emergence as a group, studies in the field of virus encoded protein structure and function were carried out as small background, self-funded projects. However, during last year’s considerable progress has been made. We managed to solve 3D structure for Ryegrass mottle virus protease alone and in complex with its cofactor – virus-genome linked protein (VPg). These results have provided the necessary positive feedback to get on to the next challenges – to solve the 3D structures for other viral proteins and adopt the plant protoplast system for protein-protein interaction studies. An additional research lines undertaken within the scope of collaboration projects with “The Institute of Horticulture” (LatHort) involves employment of Next generation sequencing (NGS) approach for identification novel plant viruses and studies of host-pest-virus interactions.

Ina Baļķe, PhD

Ina Baļķe, PhD

Head of the research group, senior researcher


Ina Baļķe, PhD, inab@biomed.lu.lv

Arnis Strods, PhD, arnis.strods@biomed.lu.lv

Rebeka Ludviga, MSc. biol., rebeka.ludviga@biomed.lu.lv


Ieva Kalnciema, MSc. biol., ieva.kalnciema@biomed.lu.lv

Santa Pikure, santa.pikure@biomed.lu.lv

Alise Heige Bajāra, alise.bajara@biomed.lu.lv

Areas for searching partners

  • Plant viruses
  • Protein 3D structures
  • Protein-protein interaction research
  • Novel plant virus identification by NGS approach
  • Plant virus protein functional research
  • Host organism-pathogen interaction studies

10 the most representative publications for the scientific group

  1. Balke I., Zeltins A., 2020, Recent advances in the use of plant virus-like particles as vaccines, Viruses, 12(3), 270, DOI: 10.3390/v12030270
  2. Storni F., Zeltins A., Balke I., Heath M.D., Kramer M.F., Skinner M.A., Zha L., Roesti E., Engeroff P., Muri L., von Werdt D., Gruber T., Cragg M., Mlynarczyk M., Kündig T.M., Vogel M., Bachmann M.F., 2020. Vaccine against peanut allergy based on engineered Virus-Like-Particles displaying single major peanut allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol., 145(4):1240-1253.e3, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.12.007
  3. Balke I., Zeltins A., 2019, Use of plant viruses and virus-like particles for the creation of novel vaccines, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 145:119-129, DOI: 10.1016/j.addr.2018.08.007
  4. Bachmann M.F., Zeltins A., Kalnins G., Balke I., Fischer N., Rostaher A., Tars K., Favrot C., 2018, Vaccination against IL-31 for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs, J Allergy Clin Immunol 142(1): P279-281.E1, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.12.994
  5. Balke I., Reseviča G., Zeltins A., 2018, Isolation and Characterization of Two Distinct Types of Unmodified Spherical Plant Sobemovirus-Like Particles for Diagnostic and Technical Uses, Methods Mol. Biol. 1776:19-34, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7808-3_2
  6. Zeltins A., West J., Zabel F., El Turabi A., Balke I., Haas S., Maudrich M., Storni F., Engeroff P., Jennings G. T., Kotecha A., Stuart D. I., Foerster J., Bachmann M. F., 2017. Incorporation of tetanus-epitope into virus-like particles achieves vaccine responses even in older recipients in models of psoriasis, Alzheimer’s and cat allergy. NPJ Vaccines 2: 30, DOI: 10.1038/s41541-017-0030-8
  7. Zeltins A., Turks M., Skrastina D., Lugiņina J., Kalnciema I., Balke I., Bizdēna Ē., Skrivelis V., 2017, Synthesis and Immunological Evaluation of Virus-Like Particle-Milbemycin A₃/A₄ Conjugates, Antibiotics 11;6(3). pii: E18, DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics6030018
  8. Kalnciema I., Balke I., Skrastina D., Ose V., Zeltins A., 2015, Potato Virus M-Like Nanoparticles: Construction and Characterization, Molecular Biotechnology 57 (11-12):982-992, DOI: 10.1007/s12033-015-9891-0
  9. Balke I., Resevica G., Zeltins A., 2007, The Ryegrass mottle virus genome codes for a sobemovirus 3C-like serine protease and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase translated via -1 ribosomal frameshifting, Virus Genes 35:395-398, DOI :10.1007/s11262-007-0087-y
  10. Plevka P., Tars K., Zeltins A., Balke I. Truve E., Liljas L., 2007, The three-dimensional structure of Ryegrass mottle virus at 2.9 Å resolution, Virology 369:364–374, DOI:10.1016/j.virol.2007.07.028