Current Research and Scholarly Interests
For many subcellular viruses and parasites, RNA, not DNA, is the carrier of genetic information. This has several interesting consequences for the genetics and biology of the virus. Poliovirus serves as a model to increase our understanding of positive-strand RNA viruses for which no vaccine is available and which remain a significant health hazard: examples include other picornaviruses, such as rhinoviruses, coxsackieviruses and the deadly enterovirus 71 as well as more distantly related positive-strand RNA viruses such as hepatitis C and Dengue fever.
Questions currently under scrutiny are posed below, and discussed in greater detail in our web site.
1. How does the biochemistry of RNA-dependent RNA polymerases affect the biology of RNA viruses?
2. How are the membranous structures on which viral RNA replication complexes assemble form, and
from what intracellular organelles do they derive?
3. Why are the genetic properties of many RNA genomes different from DNA genomes? How does the error-prone nature of RNA-dependent RNA replication and the membrane association of the RNA replication complexes affect these genetic properties?
4. How does the inhibition of the protein secretory apparatus by the 3A and 2B proteins of picornaviruses such as poliovirus affect their pathogenesis? What would happen to the secretion of interferons, and to the presentation of antigens in the context of MHC class I molecules, if the host secretory pathway were not inhibited during infection by polioviruses, rhinoviruses and coxsackieviruses?