Sean P. J. Whelan, Ph.D.

Marvin A. Brennecke Distinguished Professor and Chair
Molecular Microbiology

Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology Program
Immunology Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program

  • 314-286-1585


  • The Whelan laboratory studies the biology of negative-strand (NS) RNA viruses, divided between two major areas of focus: viral gene expression and viral-host cell interactions.

Research Abstract:

The Whelan laboratory studies the biology of negative-strand (NS) RNA viruses. These viruses have genomes that are complementary to message sense RNA and must therefore carry into the cell the necessary machinery to copy their genomic RNA into mRNA. The genomes of the viruses can be non-segmented (ns) or segmented (s). We use vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) as a model for the nsNS RNA viruses. The nsNS RNA viruses include some of the most significant human pathogens, as well as a number of highly lethal emerging infections. The work of the laboratory is divided between two major areas of focus: studies of viral gene expression and studies on viral-host cell interactions.

Selected Publications:

Structure of a rabies virus polymerase complex from electron cryo-microscopy.
Horwitz JA, Jenni S, Harrison SC, Whelan SPJ.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 28;117(4):2099-2107. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1918809117.

A broad-spectrum antiviral molecule, QL47, selectively inhibits eukaryotic translation.
de Wispelaere M, Carocci M, Burri DJ, Neidermyer WJ Jr, Olson CM, Roggenbach I, Liang Y, Wang J, Whelan SPJ, Gray NS, Yang PL.
J Biol Chem. 2020 Feb 7;295(6):1694-1703. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.011132.

Structure of the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus L Protein in Complex with Its Phosphoprotein Cofactor.
Jenni S, Bloyet LM, Diaz-Avalos R, Liang B, Whelan SPJ, Grigorieff N, Harrison SC.
Cell Rep. 2020 Jan 7;30(1):53-60.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.12.024.

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Transcription Is Inhibited by TRIM69 in the Interferon-Induced Antiviral State.
Kueck T, Bloyet LM, Cassella E, Zang T, Schmidt F, Brusic V, Tekes G, Pornillos O, Whelan SPJ, Bieniasz PD.
J Virol. 2019 Nov 26;93(24). pii: e01372-19. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01372-19.

Global analysis of polysome-associated mRNA in vesicular stomatitis virus infected cells.
Neidermyer WJ Jr, Whelan SPJ.
PLoS Pathog. 2019 Jun 21;15(6):e1007875. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007875.

Sulfated glycosaminoglycans and low-density lipoprotein receptor contribute to Clostridium difficile toxin A entry into cells.
Tao L, Tian S, Zhang J, Liu Z, Robinson-McCarthy L, Miyashita SI, Breault DT, Gerhard R, Oottamasathien S, Whelan SPJ, Dong M.
Nat Microbiol. 2019 Oct;4(10):1760-1769. doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0464-z.

Human, Nonhuman Primate, and Bat Cells Are Broadly Susceptible to Tibrovirus Particle Cell Entry.
Caì Y, Yú S, Jangra RK, Postnikova EN, Wada J, Tesh RB, Whelan SPJ, Lauck M, Wiley MR, Finch CL, Radoshitzky SR, O'Connor DH, Palacios G, Chandran K, Chiu CY, Kuhn JH.
Front Microbiol. 2019 Apr 26;10:856. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00856.

RNA ligands activate the Machupo virus polymerase and guide promoter usage.
Pyle JD, Whelan SPJ.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 May 21;116(21):10518-10524. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1900790116. Epub 2019 May 9.

Last Updated: 4/27/2020 10:00:19 AM

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