Mark Stinski, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology


photo of Mark Stinski

Human Cytomegalovirus Pathogenesis and Regulation of Gene Expression

Our laboratory is interested in the pathogenesis of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection and the viral genes that regulate viral replication. The focus of the project is to characterize the viral cis-acting elements that respond to eucaryotic transcription factors and virus-specified transcription factors. Our experiments are designed to investigate the functions of the viral immediate early gene products and a virion-associated tegument protein. This investigation should contribute to an understanding of how a virus can alter the amount of viral products by positive and negative regulation during infection of the eucaryotic cell.

The research is designed to address the following two broad questions important for understanding the biology of HCMV: (1) How can a virus which contains a very strong enhancer containing promoter-regulatory region influence expression from that promoter by viral activator and repressor proteins? What cis elements are necessary for positive and negative regulation? and (2) What are the viral transcriptional control mechanisms that determine whether an infection is persistent or latent? To answer these questions we use techniques such as recombinant DNA plasmids, DNA sequencing, RNA:DNA and RNA:RNA hybridizations, viral or bacterial expression vectors, etc. Recombinant HCMVs with regions or genes deleted are isolated to investigate replication of the virus in various cell types.