Vera Tarakanova, PhD

Vera Tarakanova, PhD

Associate Professor
Microbiology and Immunology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Research Focus: Virus-host Interactions

PhD: Saint Louis University, Microbiology

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Washington University

Tarakanova Laboratory

I have a long-standing interest in virus-host interactions, particularly as it applies to cancer-associated viruses. Our current research focuses on gammaherpesviruses. Gammaherpesviruses infect a majority of adult population worldwide; this virus infection is never cleared. Importantly, gammaherpesviruses drive the development of several malignancies, including lymphomas. While it is clear that not every infected human will develop virus-driven lymphoma, the risk factors for viral lymphomagenesis remain poorly defined and it is next to impossible to predict individual’s risk of developing gammaherpesvirus-driven cancer.

Our research group utilizes a mouse gammaherpesvirus-68 (MHV68) model to study the entire spectrum of virus-host interactions: molecular mechanisms using cultures of primary immune cells --chronic infection of an intact host-- animal models of viral lymphomagenesis. We are particularly interested in dissecting interactions of gammaherpesviruses with host signaling pathways and how these interactions shape viral replication, chronic infection, host antiviral immune response, and viral pathogenesis. Projects in the laboratory focus on a variety of signaling pathways, including DNA damage response/Ataxia-Telangiectasia kinase, type I interferon signaling/histone deacetylases 1 and 2, Interferon Regulatory Factor 1/Cholesterol-25-hydroxylase. The laboratory has also taken advantage of the powerful host and viral genetics available within the MHV68 system to generate several mouse models and to address the functions of virus-encoded conserved protein kinase (orf36) during chronic infection.

Vera Tarakanova, PhD

A. Normal mouse spleen. B. Lymphoma bearing spleen from an immunocompromised mouse infected with murine gammaherpesvirus-68. Note the concise, dark-staining area of white pulp (outlined) in the normal spleen (A). White pulp undergoes massive expansion and becomes filled with homogenous, lightly staining mass of malignant cells in B. Magnification: A, B x40.

Recent Publications


Contact Information

Vera Tarakanova, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226

(414) 955-7480
Room BSB-250 (Basic Science Building)