Luiza Mendonca
Office Address

5-130 Nils Hasselmo
312 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Lab Address

5-220 Nils Hasselmo
312 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States



Assistant Professor
Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biophysics

The Mendonça Lab uses integrative imaging approaches (cryoEM/ET, cryoFIB/SEM, CLEM) to investigate cellular pathways exploited by RNA viruses and identify novel molecular targets for therapeutic interventions. Our research has the potential to reveal molecular weak links to be exploited to fight viral diseases such as AIDS and COVID-19.

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Research statement

My research interests lie at the intersection of virology, structural biology and cellular biology. In particular, I am an expert in RNA viruses (such as HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2), cryoelectron microscopy and tomography (cryoEM/ET), cellular cryoET, correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) and multimodal imaging approaches. My goal is to pursue research that offers mechanistic understanding of viral replication, viral transmission, and anti-viral immune response through the application of correlative and integrative imaging approaches combined with functional virology assays. This research will identify novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention aimed to fight the diseases caused by these viruses as well as contribute with further understanding of fundamental cellular processes such as antiviral immune response.

Selected publications

  • Mendonca L, Howe A, Gilchrist JB, Sun D, Knight ML, Zanetti-Domingues LC, Bateman B, Krebs, AS, Chen L, Radecke J, Sheng Y, Li VD, Ni T, Kounatidis I, Koronfel MA, Szynkiewicz M, Harkiolaki M, Martin-Fernandez ML, James W, Zhang P. SARS-CoV-2 Assembly and Egress Pathway Revealed by Correlative Multi-modal Multi-scale Cryo-imaging. Nat. Commun. 2021.
  • Mendonca L, Sun D, Ning J, Liu J, Kotecha A, Olek M, Frosio T, Fu X, Himes BA, Kleinpeter AB, Freed EO, Zhou J, Aiken C, Zhang P. CryoET structures of immature HIV Gag reveal a complete six-helix bundle and stabilizing small molecules distinct from IP6. Commun. Biol. 2021.
  • Watanabe Y, Mendonca L*, Allen ER, Howe A, Lee M, Allen JD, Chawla H, Pulido D, Donellan F, Davies H, Ulaszewska M, Belij-Rammerstorfer S, Morris S, Green CG, Lambe T, Zhang P, Gilbert SC, Crispin M. Native-like SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein expressed by ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. ACS Cent. Sci. 2021. *co-first-author
  • Liu C, Mendonça L*, Yang Y, Gao Y, Shen C, Liu J, Ni T, Ju B, Liu C, Tang X, Wei J, Ma X, Zhu Y, Liu W, Xu S, Liu Y, Yuan J, Wu J, Liu Z, Zhang Z, Liu L, Wang P, Zhang P. The Architecture of Inactivated SARS-CoV-2 with Postfusion Spikes Revealed by Cryo-EM and Cryo-ET. Structure. 2020. *co-first-author
  • Meissner ME, Mendonça LM*, Zhang W, Mansky LM. Polymorphic Nature of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Particle Cores as Revealed through Characterization of a Chronically Infected Cell Line. J Virol. 2017 *co-first-author

Education and background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow 2022 University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Postdoctoral Associate 2018 University of Minnesota
  • Ph.D. 2015 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
  • Visiting Scholar 2014 California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • MSc 2011 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
  • BS 2009 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil