Welcome to the Kao Lab!
Reseach in the Kao Lab
The Kao Lab's research is in two broad areas: viral processes, with emphasis on RNA virus replication, and innate immune receptors that detect viruses. For each of these two areas, we have two developed systems. In addition, the Kao lab is interested in building techniques to facilitate research and drug development.
RNA virus replication: We study three viruses with positive-strand RNA genomes (positive-strand RNAs are functionally equivalent to mRNAs): Hepatitis C Virus, the SARS coronavirus, and the plant-infecting Brome Mosaic Virus. We are especially interested in the enzymes for viral RNA synthesis, such as RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. We also study the communication and crosstalk between different viral processes (replication, translation, encapsidation, etc.)
Innate immunity receptors: These receptors recognize and initiate the responses that can limit or stop pathogen infections. We are interested in the structure and function of the receptors that recognize viral RNA ligands, such as Toll-Like Receptor 3, and RIG-I and we want to elucidate to develop reagents to regulate their activities. We are also studying how different receptors communicate with each other in response to pathogen infections.
Viral Nanotechnology: Viral capsids have the amazing ability to assemble into virus-like particles even in the absence of other proteins. We are interested in using these properties as well as the ability to genetically engineer the capsids to make novel imaging tools and delivery vectors.