Dr. Verma’s research involves understanding the pathogenesis of tumor viruses, specifically Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Both viruses undergo lytic replication in epithelial cells during primary infection and during reactivation from latent infection in B-lymphocytes. Epstein Barr virus SM is an RNA binding protein essential for viral replication that enhances EBV gene expression by enhancing RNA stability and RNA export. Dr. Verma has shown that SM interacts with cellular splicing factors and influences splicing of both EBV and cellular pre-mRNAs. Like EBV SM, KSHV ORF57 is also a post-transcriptional regulatory protein, essential for KSHV lytic replication and has high degree of gene specificity. His current research is focused on regulation of gene expression and antiviral drug screening in the following areas:
A. Mechanism and regulation of EBV SM mediated RNA splicing.
B. Role of cellular splicing factors in viral gene regulation.
C. Gene specific effect of ORF57 on KSHV lytic replication and cellular gene expression.
D. Development of a cell-based assay for screening compounds that inhibit EBV SM function and test antiviral activity against human herpesviruses.