Department of Microbiology

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Faculty Profile

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Erle S. Robertson, Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology
Program Leader, Tumor Virology Training Program, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Microbiology
Department: Microbiology

Contact information
201E Johnson Pavilion
3610 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 746-0114
Fax: (215) 898-9557
Graduate Group Affiliations
Education:
B.Sc. (Microbiology)
Howard University, Washington, DC, Dean's list for entire period, 1987.
PhD (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics)
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI Mentor: Allan Nicholson, Ph.D., 1992.
MS (Honorary Masters)
University of Pennsylvania, 2003.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Mechanisms of Oncogenesis by Gammaherpesvirus.

Key words: oncogenesis, viruses and cancer, viral oncology, Tumor Virology, Gene therapy, Kaposi's Sarcoma, Epstein-Barr Virus, Lymphoproliferative disease, Lymphomas.

Description of Research
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) are associated with a number of human malignancies. These include Burkitt's lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma and body cavity based lymphoma. We are investigating the fundamental mechanisms utilized by these gammaherpesviruses to induce cell mediated growth transformation. We are using genetics, genomics and biochemical approaches to establish unknown pathways involved in these cellular events and attempting to develop models that explain how gammaherpesviruses establish transformation in human cells.

EBV infects human B-lymphocytes and is the etiological agent of infectious mononucleosis. In vitro EBV efficiently growth transforms primary B-lymphocytes. Studies have demonstrated that only a subset of the viral latent genes is essential for EBV mediated transformation. One such gene is the EBV nuclear antigen EBNA3C. EBNA3C is a large nuclear transcription factor involved in modulating transcription activated by a cellular repressor RBP-Jkappa and other transcription factors. We are interested in other related functions of EBNA3C through its interactions with a number of other cellular molecules. Screens to identify other cellular targets have identified a number of interesting targets associated with EBNA3C. These molecules are involved in cell division, metastasis, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation and regulation of protein degradation. We are currently pursuing a number of these molecules in an effort to demonstrate their biochemical, structural and functional relevance in human cancers.

KSHV is the second human oncogenic herpesvirus, associated with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and pleural effusion lymphomas (PELs) or body cavity based lymphomas (BCBLs). KSHV also belongs to the human gammaherpesvirus family with collinear homology to EBV. KSHV infects human B-cells and endothelial cells. The mechanism of KSHV mediated oncogenesis is not understood. Our laboratory is involved in the elucidation of the mechanisms by which KSHV persists and establishes persistent infection in the associated human cancers.

Rotation Projects for 2006-2007
Positions available. Please contact Dr. Robertson via mail.

Lab personnel:
Jason Knight, MSTP Candidate
Subhash Verma, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ke Lan, Postdoctoral Fellow
Masano Murukami, Postdoctoral Fellow
Sumit Borah, Research Specialist
Daniel Kuppers, Research Specialist

Selected Publications

Knight, J., Sharma, N., Robertson, ES: EBV Laten Antigen 3C Can Medicate the Degradation of the Retinoblastoma Protein through an SCF Cellular Ubiquitin Ligase. Prooceedings of the National Academy of Sciences In press.

Verma, S., Lan, K., and Robertson, E.S.: Structure and Function of LANA encoded by KSHV. In Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus. Springer Press, London, England, In Press.

Knight, J.A. and Robertson, E.S.: Epstein-Barr virus and Cell Cycle Regulation. In Epstein Barr Virus. Horzion Press, London, UK, Page: 50 - 532, 2005.

Si, H., and Robertson E.S.: Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Encoded Latency-associated Nuclear Antigen Induces Chromosomal Instability through Inhibition of P53 Function. Journal of Viriology 80(2): 697 - 709, 2006.

Sharma, N., J.S. Knight, and E.S. Robertson: Conserved cell cycle regulatory properties within the Amino-Terminal Domain of the Epstein-Barr Virus nuclear Antigen 3C Virology 346(2): 379 - 384, March 2006.

Murakami, M., Lan, K. Subramanian, C., and Robertson, E.S.,: The Epstein-Barr Virus nuclear antigen 1 interacts with Nm23-H1 in lymphoblastoid cell lines and inhibits its ability to suppress cell migration. Journal of Virology 79: 1559-1568, 2005.

Lan, K., Kuppers, D.A., Verma, S., Sharma, N., Murakami, M. and Robertson, E.S.: Induction of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus latency-associated nuclear antigen by the lytic transactivator RTA: Novel mechanism for establishment of latency. Journal of Virology 79(12): In Press, June 2005.

Knight, J.S., Sharma, N. and Robertson, E.S.: SCF(Skp2)complex targeted by Epstein-Barr virus essential nuclear antigen. Molecular and Cell Biology 25(5): 1749 - 1763, March 2005.

Kuppers, D.A., Lan, K., Knight, J.A., Robertson, E.S.: Regulation of MMp-9 expression by Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 3C and the suppressor of metastasis Nm23-H1. Journal of Virology 79: 9714 - 9724, 2005.

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Last updated: 04/10/2014
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