Our lab focuses on the epigenetic regulation of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is a common infection associated with cold sores and ocular infections that can result in blindness. The virus has two major types of infection, lytic and latent. Lytic infections are characterized by transcription of the entire genome to create proteins that allow the virus to replicate its genome, assemble infectious viral particles, and spread. During latency the virus remains dormant within cells so that it can escape immune detection and clearance, permitting the virus to colonize its infected host for their lifetime. Latency is characterized by transcriptional repression of the viral genome until a signal for reactivation to the lytic phase is sensed, promoting genome-wide transcription and infectious progeny formation.
Our lab is interested in how epigenetic mechanisms control the establishment of latency and how disruption of these epigenetic mechanisms lead to HSV-1 reactivation and ocular pathogenesis.