Jennifer Ptacek, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D. Genetics, Yale University, 2007.
B.A. Biology, University of Virginia, 2002.
D322 Fairchild
299 Campus Drive
Stanford CA 94305-5124
Research Summary

Poliovirus, a positive-strand RNA virus, induces massive rearrangement of intracellular membranes within the host cell and the accumulation of numerous double-membraned vesicles. These double-membraned vesicles resemble autophagic vesicles biochemically and structurally and are believed to be the site of poliovirus RNA replication. The tethering of the viral RNA replication complexes to the cytosolic surface of intracellular membranes could affect several aspects of their structures and functions. First, membrane association may provide structural support for the assembly of the proper higher-order structure of viral RNA replication complexes. Second, tethering the complexes to membranes could serve to facilitate RNA synthesis by concentrating essential components of the replication machinery. Finally, the membrane supports could provide key lipid or protein components for the recruitment or proper function of the viral RNA replication complex. The objective of my project is to elucidate the role of membrane association on poliovirus RNA synthesis. I am developing a model membrane system to study the assembly and specific activity of the poliovirus polymerase 3Dpol in the presence and absence of synthetic and natural membranes. Like poliovirus, all known positive-strand RNA viruses of eukaryotic cells replicate their genomes on the cytosolic surface of membranous structures within the host cell. Therefore, I plan to extend these studies to other positive-strand RNA viruses, such as hepatitis C virus.

Copyright 2006 - 2010. The Laboratory of Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D. All rights reserved.