top of page
About us

About us

The lab focuses on studying the retroviral enzyme integrase and its role in infection. Integrase is a key enzyme for every retrovirus. It allows the reverse-transcribed viral DNA be integrated into the DNA of the host, leading to a permanent and irreversible infection. A plethora of biochemical events during the process of integration are not well understood, for example how the integrase “chooses” the site of integration on host DNA, and conversely – how the “chosen” site affects disease outcomes of infection.

We are particularly interested in the integrase of the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). There is no successful therapeutic or preventative regimen for HTLV-1. Many of the ~20 million HTLV-1 infected people will develop severe leukaemia or an ALS-like motor disease, unless a therapy becomes available. It is therefore essential to further our understanding of this virus and develop therapies to inhibit transmission or block the onset/development of HTLV-1 associated diseases.




Interaction between the retroviral integrase and the host-cellular machinery

The Maertens lab has been at the forefront of integrase research for years. We were the first to solve the molecular structure of the deltaretrovirus integrase and identify the complex with the HTLV integrase host factor – PP2A B56. Currently, we are interested in furthering these findings into how the integrase machinery interacts with the host chromatin and other cellular factors.


Inhibitors of HTLV-1

We are currently exploring the possibility of using integrase strand-transfer inhibitors (INSTIs) as possible therapy for HTLV-1. INSTIs have been used for years in HIV-1 treatment with great results. We recently identified that many of these inhibitors also inhibit HTLV-1 IN and limit infection in vitro.


HTLV-1 integration site targeting

The site of integration is one of the main determinants of the outcome of HTLV-1 infection. We are interested in identifying and characterizing host-factors for delta- and other retroviral INs involved in targeting of integration and post-integration repair.

Our team

Our Team


Dr Goedele N. Maertens

       Principal Investigator


Mr Aaron Logsdon

PhD student


Dr Roghaiyeh Safari

Postdoctoral Research Associate


Ms Bethany Schneiderman

PhD student


Ms Kate Slade

PhD student

Mphatso Kalemera.jpeg.jpg

Dr Mphatso Kalemera

Postdoctoral Research Associate



Funders and Partners

Funders and Partners 

Recent Pubicatons

Recent publications

Schneiderman B, Barski M, Maertens G, 2022, Cabotegravir, the long-acting integrase strand transfer inhibitor, potently inhibits HTLV-1 transmission in vitro, Frontiers in Medicine, Vol:9: 1-7

Maertens GN, Engelman AN, Cherepanov P, 2022, Structure and function of retroviral integraseNature Reviews Microbiology, Vol:20, ISSN:1740-1526, Pages:20-34

Barski MS, Vanzo T, Zhao XZ, et al., 2021, Structural basis for the inhibition of HTLV-1 integration inferred from cryo-EM deltaretroviral intasome structures (vol 12, 4996, 2021), Nature Communications, Vol:12

Maertens G, Barski MS, Vanzo T, et al., 2021, Structural basis for the inhibition of HTLV-1 integration inferred from cryo-EM deltaretroviral intasome structures, Nature Communications, Vol:12: 1-10

Barski M, Minnell J, Maertens G, 2021, PP2A phosphatase as an emerging viral host factorFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Vol:11, ISSN:2235-2988

Barski M, Minnell J, Pye V, Nans A, Hodakova Z, Cherepanov P, Maertens Get al., 2020, Cryo-EM structure of the deltaretroviral intasome in complex with the PP2A regulatory subunit B56Nature Communications, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2041-1723

Barski MS, Minnell JJ, Maertens G, 2019, Inhibition of HTLV-1 infection by HIV-1 first- and second-generation integrase strand transfer inhibitorsFrontiers in Microbiology, Vol: 10, ISSN: 1664-302X

Stockum A, Snijders AP, Maertens GN, 2018, USP11 deubiquitinates RAE1 and plays a key role in bipolar spindle formation.PLoS ONE, Vol: 13, ISSN: 1932-6203



We are always looking for talented students to join the lab. For undergraduate and postgraduate student positions, please contact Dr Maertens directly.

We are currently looking to hire an experienced research technician. The post is for 4 years and is funded by the MRC. Find more details here:

Contact us


Imperial College London

Dept of Infectious Disease

Medical School

St-Mary’s campus

London W2 1PG


Tel: +44 (0) 20 7594 3655


bottom of page