Michael Imperiale

Michael Imperiale, Ph.D.

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Accepting new students?
Trainings and Identities:
Implicit Bias Training, Anti-Racism Training, Bystander Training, First Generation-Identified
Research Interests:
Virology, Viral Genetics, Virus-Host Cell Interactions

Each member of our lab team has unique, valued contributions to make.

Our laboratory studies the molecular biology of the small DNA tumor virus, BK polyomavirus. BKPyV is a ubiquitous human pathogen that establishes a subclinical, persistent infection of the urinary tract during early childhood. In healthy individuals, the virus is excreted periodically into the urine but does not cause disease, but in renal and bone marrow transplant patients, the virus can cause severe and sometimes life threatening illnesses. We are interested in the interplay between viral and host factors that determine whether the virus will persist or replicate in the cell. On the host cell side, our current efforts are focused on both cytoplasmic and nuclear factors with which the virus interacts during infection. We are studying the pathway that the virus follows from the plasma membrane to the nucleus, the site of viral replication. We are also interested in control of viral replication once it reaches the nucleus. We are studying the role of a virally-encoded miRNA in regulating viral gene expression. In addition, we are investigating the genesis of viral genomic rearrangements that occur in patients with BKPyV disease, which appears to involve the cellular DNA damage response. Since there are no effective antiviral drugs with which to treat transplant patients, we are hopeful that these studies will lead to not only the discovery of important and interesting biology, but to the identification of new therapeutic targets.