Joel D. Baines, VMD PhD
Dr. Baines' Work
Every mammalian species looked at carefully can be infected by at least one herpesvirus, making them ubiquitous in the biosphere. While these viruses are different in many ways, all herpesviruses have two phases of infection: a productive phase in which abundant virus is produced, and a latent phase in which no virus can be detected. Reactivation from latency periodically throughout the life of the host is one reason these viruses have persisted so successfully in host populations. The initiation of transcription is the first step during reactivation from latency and the process requires repurposing cellular RNA polymerase II to express viral genes. Our lab studies transcription in cells infected with herpesviruses during both the productive and latent phases of virus infection. By understanding the mechanisms by which the virus regulates its own transcription, we may be able to intervene to preclude reactivation from latency, and interfere with productive viral replication.