Dr. Ren Sun and his colleagues are pursuing research in several areas, with the long-term goal of understanding the molecular mechanism of herpesvirus replication and its role in pathogenesis. The researchers have identified a viral gene that can initiate the complete lytic replication cascade of HHV-8. Now, they are questioning how it controls the expression of downstream genes and how cellular signal pathways control the viral switch. They have also discovered a novel non-coding viral transcript, polyadenylated nuclear RNA (PAN). PAN forms stable complexes with cellular proteins, and co-localizes with U snRNAs in the nucleus. Sun's laboratory is identifying PAN-associated cellular proteins and their functions.
In addition, Sun and his associates are utilizing murine herpesvirus-68, a related virus in mice, as an in vivo model to dissect the roles of virus-encoded cytokines in viral replication and tumor-pathogenesis. The lab takes genomic and proteomic approaches to define the structure and function of every viral protein encoded by MHV-68.
Using their understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying the viral latency, Sun and his associates initiate clinical trials for herpes virus-associated malignancies. They also work on the molecular biology of the SARS virus.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Leang RS, Wu TT, Hwang S, Liang LT, Tong L, Truong JT, Sun R. The anti-interferon activity of conserved viral dUTPase ORF54 is essential for an effective MHV-68 infection. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Oct;7(10):e1002292. Epub 2011 Oct 6.
Lee S, Salwinski L, Zhang C, Chu D, Sampankanpanich C, Reyes NA, Vangeloff A, Xing F, Li X, Wu TT, Sahasrabudhe S, Deng H, Lacount DJ, Sun R. An integrated approach to elucidate the intra-viral and viral-cellular protein interaction networks of a gamma-herpesvirus. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Oct;7(10):e1002297. Epub 2011 Oct 20.
Li X, Feng J, Sun R. Oxidative stress induces reactivation of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and death of primary effusion lymphoma cells. J Virol. 2011 Jan;85(2):715-24. Epub 2010 Nov 10.
Brown HJ, Peng L, Harada JN, Walker JR, Cole S, Lin SF, Zack JA, Chanda SK, Sun R. Gene expression and transcription factor profiling reveal inhibition of transcription factor cAMP-response element-binding protein by gamma-herpesvirus replication and transcription activator. J Biol Chem. 2010 Aug 13;285(33):25139-53. Epub 2010 Jun 1.
Wu TT, Park T, Kim H, Tran T, Tong L, Martinez-Guzman D, Reyes N, Deng H, Sun R. ORF30 and ORF34 are essential for expression of late genes in murine gammaherpesvirus 68. J Virol. 2009 Mar;83(5):2265-73. Epub 2008 Dec 17.