Peter Svensson

Peter Svensson

Principal researcher

The research of the group into the HIV cure field is focused on chromatin, and especially how transcription and chromatin states transitions interconnect.

About me

Docent (associate professor) in functional genomics at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition. 

I completed my Ph.D. at Leiden University Medical Center and Uppsala University in 2006. After that I did a post-doc in the lab of Leona Samson at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2010, I became a PI at Karolinska Institutet. Between 2015 and 2017 I was at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology (San Fransisco) as a Visiting scientist. 

Research description

HIV infection is a devastating disease affecting 35 million people worldwide. Current anti-retroviral treatment is highly effective and has made the HIV infection chronic. However, despite more effective treatments, the prospects of a cure are distant. 

The problem for an HIV cure is that, even though the virus particles are eradicated, the infected cells maintain the information of remake the virus. This information is integrated in the host cell as a provirus. The provirus switches between active and inactive states. Thereby, the infected cells evade both the immune system and death associated with massive viral production.

In my lab we characterize the composition of proviral chromatin and how it connects with transcription and viral production. We are interested in the fate of the HIV-1 provirus from the time of infection until latency has been firmly established in resting primary CD4+T-cells. Whereas the proviruses encompassed in heterochromatin are refractory to activation, we have shown that latent proviruses with “enhancer” characteristics are readily activated. Our studies have provided key insights as to detect the remaining HIV-1 infected cells capable of reseeding the infection and the mechanisms whereby they are maintained.