Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Main Office: NMS 3.116
Phone: (512) 475-6864
Alternate Office: NMS 3.212
Alt. Phone: (512) 475-6915
The University of Texas at Austin
Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
2506 Speedway Stop A5000
Austin ,TX 78712-1191
Programmed cell death (PCD) serves as an efficient intrinsic defense against cellular injury or infection. Many pathogens, such as viruses, subvert normal cell death pathways as a mechanism to facilitate their own replication and persistence. Research in the Upton lab centers focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) and the regulation of PCD during infection. Using techniques of molecular and cellular biology, virology, and immunology, our research focuses on (1) elucidating the molecular mechanisms that initiate and execute programmed cell death pathways, (2) identifying and characterizing pathogen-encoded mechanisms of cell death suppression, and (3) understanding the role of cell death and cell death suppression during natural host-pathogen interactions, specifically influences on pathogenesis and host immunity.
Evasion of PCD is also a hallmark of cancer. Tumor cells develop a variety of mechanisms to subvert cell death pathways that would normally eliminate these defective cells. Therefore understanding how cell death is controlled is central to the understanding of cancer itself. The Upton lab also focuses on interrogating the molecular mechanisms by which cancer cells evade PCD. Using the understanding and insights gleaned from studying viral systems, we aim to identify and characterize how tumor cells inactivate their own cell death machinery to survive and spread, providing potential novel targets for therapeutic intervention.