Kathleen R. Makielski
Position title: Lambert Laboratory
Research Title. Human papillomavirus promotes Epstein-Barr virus lytic life cycle in immortalized oral keratinocytes.
Research Description. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are human tumor viruses that cause head and neck cancers. Both viruses infect and replicate in upper aerodigestive tract epithelia. Some studies have detected co-infection in both oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal cancers raising the possibility that these viruses could potentially affect each other’s life cycles and/or oncogenic potential. Our lab has established an in vitro model system using organotypic raft cultures to test the effects of EBV and HPV on each other in stratified squamous oral epithelial cells. We found that the presence of HPV promotes EBV lytic reactivation. Specifically, HPV promotes EBV genome amplification, expression of an EBV immediate-early protein, Z, and EBV virus production. The goal of my research is to investigate how HPV promotes EBV lytic reactivation. Studying the effects of HPV on EBV lytic reactivation could be a first step to determining if coinfection contributes to viral infection and head and neck carcinogenesis.