Lab Research

Ertel et al. (2017) eLife

Unchwaniwala et al. (2020) PNAS

Our laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which viruses replicate, interact with host cells, and cause disease, including cancer. Our work spans fundamental studies in cell culture to translational studies with large collections of patient samples. The goals of these analyses are to advance understanding of virus infection and cell biology, and to use the results to prevent and treat virus infection and virus-induced tumors. To these ends, our studies focus on selected important viruses, including advanced models for the replication of positive-strand RNA viruses (which include SARS-CoV-2 and many other key pathogens); two cancer-relevant reverse-transcribing viruses, HIV-1 and hepatitis B virus; and human papillomavirus, a major DNA tumor virus that causes over 5% of human cancers.

Examples of our research results include revealing the structure, assembly and function of novel, membrane-bounded mini-organelles that positive-strand RNA viruses generate for their RNA genome replication (e.g., Ertel et al. 2017 eLife; Nishikiori & Ahlquist 2018 Science Advances; Unchwaniwala & Ahlquist 2020 Science); the first systematic, genome wide analyses of host factors in the replication of any virus (Kushner et al. 2003 PNAS) and in the replication of influenza virus (Hao et al. 2008 Nature); multiple new host functions, infection steps and antiviral targets in the replication of HIV (Bruce et al. 2021 PLoS Path), positive-strand RNA viruses (Diaz et al. 2015 PLoS Path), papillomavirus (Pyeon et al. 2009 PLoS Path) and hepatitis B virus (Watanabe et al. 2007 PNAS); and the molecular features and progression of tumors induced by papillomaviruses and Epstein-Barr virus (e.g., den Boon et al. 2015 PNAS; Spurgeon et al. 2017 PNAS).

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