1] Viral entry. Within the Paramyxoviridae family, Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV) cause the highest mortality rates (40-90%) in humans. This family includes important human and veterinary pathogens, such as measles, mumps, human parainfluenza, canine distemper, and Newcastle disease viruses. There are many questions in the paramyxoviral entry field that remain elusive. Our recent studies have identified several novel regions in the viral glycoproteins G and F that are important for modulating viral-cell membrane fusion during viral entry, as well as cell-cell fusion after a virus has infected a cell. What steps in the viral entry process these regions in G and F modulate is an important question we pursue. We use novel approaches that allow us to study these questions on virions, such as flow virometry and Raman spectroscopy.
2] Viral egress. Our recent identification of cellular factors involved in viral entry, assembly, and budding assist the study of the mechanisms by which viral and cellular factors interact to modulate viral assembly and egress from host cells. Importantly, we connect this knowledge to the study of deadly viral pathogenesis via established biosafety level 4 collaborations.
3] Immune responses. Viral-like particles are non-replication-competent units that resemble actual viruses. Our data has shown that NiV and HeV viral-like particles are useful to generate highly-neutralizing conformational antibodies to NiV and HeV. We investigate whether NiV and HeV viral-like particles can be used as vaccine platforms against NiV and HeV as a proof of principle. We would like to expand this knowledge to other emerging and myxoviruses.
4] Antivirals. We take both empirical and targeted approaches. Our main interests include the search for antiviral agents with broad antiviral applications, with a special interest in those to be used against enveloped viruses. Our membrane fusion studies foster the discovery of broad-spectrum antivirals that target enveloped viruses. We are currently characterizing the mechanisms of action of several potential antiviral compounds.
BS (Institito Tecnologico de Tepic)
MS (California State University, Los Angeles)
PhD (University of Southern California)
Dr. Aguilar-Carreno assumed his position as Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Cornell University in July, 2017. His previous position was Assistant Professor at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health at Washington State University (WSU). He received a B.S. degree in Biochemical Engineering from Instituto Tecnologico de Tepic, Mexico. He then immigrated to the USA and obtained a M.S. degree in Biology from the California State University, Los Angeles, and a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California. He received post-doctoral training in Virology at the University of California, Los Angeles, under the mentoring of Dr. Benhur Lee. At UCLA he co-identified the cell receptors for Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV) and began to establish important tools to study NiV and HeV entry into mammalian host cells. Among his roles, he has served as the WSU Chair of the Immunology and Infectious Diseases Executive Committee, a member of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine research committee, a member of the WSU Internal Governance Board for the NIH T32 post-doctoral program, a trainer for the WSU NIH Biotechnology doctoral training program, a member of the American Society for Virology Education Committee, a member of many different NIH study sections, and the Chair of the American Society of Microbiology Committee for Minority Education.