Staff Collaborate Conference Room

Vera Tarakanova, PhD

VeraTarakanova

Vera Tarakanova, PhD

Associate Professor

Locations

  • Microbiology & Immunology
    BSB 250

Contact Information

Biography

General Interests

Virus-host Interactions

Education

PhD, Microbiology, Saint Louis University
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Washington University

Research Interests

tarakanovalab

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.

tarakanovafigure

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.

Publications