Biochemistry, Plant and Microbial Biosciences
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research in our laboratory involves the molecular biology and replication of eukaryotic DNA viruses. We are particularly interested in the baculoviruses, a group of large DNA viruses that are pathogenic to invertebrates. These unique viruses are known for their prolific multiplication in insect (moth) cells and are the most popular eukaryotic vectors for high level expression of foreign gene products (proteins). Moreover, these DNA viruses exhibit a highly controlled but complex program of transcription during replication which makes them useful and attractive models for studies on eukaryotic gene regulation. Our goal is to investigate the molecular mechanisms that govern baculovirus replication to better understand fundamental problems in regulation of eukaryotic gene expression and the interaction of viruses with their host cell.
We study the early and late replication stages of the prototype baculovirus, Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus (AcMNPV) in cultured cells. AcMNPV uses a complex regulatory scheme to ensure the proper timing and level of expression of essential genes. Early genes encode transcriptional regulatory factors, whereas late genes encode virus structural proteins. We are examining the mechanisms that control the proper turn on and turn off of viral genes during infection by focusing on the molecular interactions between cis-acting DNA regulatory sequences and virus/host transcription factors. We have characterized the promoters and enhancers required for proper transcription of early AcMNPV genes and continue to investigate the trans-acting factors involved.