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Dr. Yuntao Wu
Yuntao Wu, Ph.D
Professor of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases at George Mason University
Ph.D., Queens University, Ontario

Phone: 703-993-4299
Email: ywu8@gmu.edu

HIV-1 subverts the immune system during pathogenic infection, resulting in a gradual depletion of CD4 T cells and a loss of immune functionality that ultimately results in Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In line with this, HIV-1 has evolved a complex network of interactions with cellular proteins by which this coercion occurs. Our research has predominantly focused on a particular subset of cellular factors, those that constitute the chemokine signaling network of immune cells. Our research has indicated that HIV-1 exploits the chemotactic system to gain access to downstream effector molecules such as cofilin, an actin-depolymerization factor that regulates actin cytoskeleton (Yoder et al., 2008, Cell 134: 782-792). We discovered that HIV-mediated actin dynamics is a key feature during early infection events, facilitating viral reverse transcription and nuclear migration within blood T cells. Our goal is to identify signaling molecules and cytoskeletal factors that play pivotal roles in HIV-1 replication and determine the functions of these factors. 

We have previously identified cofilin as a critical factor in early HIV-1 infection events. Much of our research is now focusing on the upstream factors of cofilin, those being LIMK1/2, p21-activated kinases, and certain cellular phosphatases, among others. Emergently, our goal is to create a framework of understanding on which the development of anti-HIV pharmaceuticals can proceed. In this endeavor, we have sought a degree of reproducibility and accuracy in our research constituting a standard of research quality to which all of our findings are subject.

Department of Molecular and Microbiology
National Center for Biodefense & Infectious Diseases
George Mason University
10900 University Drive
Manassas, VA 20110

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