Gus Kousoulas K

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Gus Kousoulas K, PhD
Division of Biotechnology & Molecular Medicine
Luisiana State University, USA

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Biography

Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas received his BS in Physics from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ, and his MS and PhD degrees from Pennsylvania State University in Biophysics and Molecular Cell Biology, respectively. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas received postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago working in Dr. Bernard Roizman’s laboratory and at the University of California at San Francisco with Dr. Lenore Pereira, where later he was promoted to Research Assistant Professor. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas joined Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA in 1988 and became full professor in 1994. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas is currently Professor of Virology at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine with adjunct appointments at the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Basic Sciences, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, and the LSU Health Sciences Center’s Gene Therapy Program and the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center in New Orleans. He is also an affiliate member of the Tulane National Primate Research Center located in Covington, LA. Dr. Kousoulas has been independently funded by NIH with R01 grants since 1990 working on the molecular biology of herpes simplex virus. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas is the Principal Investigator of the LSU-Tulane Center for Experimental Infectious Diseases, which is funded by the NIH:NCRR: COBRE mechanism and a mentor of a junior investigator in the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry COBRE (PI: Paul Fidel). Dr. Kousoulas is a member of the Steering Committee of the LSU Baton Rouge-led NCRR: INBRE program and leads the molecular and cellular biology core of the INBRE. Dr. Kousoulas has served on a number of NIH panels including the NCRR Comparative Medicine Panel and other NIH panels and site visit teams of National Primate Research Centers.

Research Interest

Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas primary research interests are focused on the molecular biology and pathogenesis of herpes simplex viruses (HSV) and human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) or Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). Specifically, he seeks to define the molecular mechanisms that control attachment and penetration of these viruses into susceptible cells (including cells of neuronal origin for HSV), their ability to replicate and spread from cell to cell, and the role of membrane fusion events in intracellular virion transport and egress. His experimental approach utilizes advanced molecular biology, molecular genetics and cell biology. Briefly, mutant herpesviruses deficient in a particular function are isolated through generalized mutagenesis, site-specific mutagenesis of viral genomes cloned into bacterial artificial chromosomes (BAC). These engineered viruses are studied to learn about the role of specific virus encoded proteins in host cell attachment, penetration, virus induced cell fusion virion assembly and egress. To analyze the role of specific viral genes in virus penetration and virus-induced cell fusion these genes are expressed in transient, eukaryotic expression systems and the expressed proteins are detected using specific monoclonal antibodies produced in my laboratory. In addition, monoclonal and monospecific sera against viral proteins are utilized to locate their target proteins in infected cells using confocal and immunoelectron microscopy and to analyze their structure and function. A major finding from our studies has implicated multiple protein-protein interactions among viral membrane proteins of both HSV-1 and KSHV in regulation of virus-induced membrane fusion phenomena. Similarly, multiple interactions among membrane proteins and tegument proteins have been found to regulate cytoplasmic virion envelopment. A second major recent interest of his laboratory is the use of viral vectors for gene and ancer therapy and vaccine purposes. Currently funded projects include the generation of oncolytic recombinant herpes simplex virus vectors to combat breast cancer (Louisiana Board of Regents and Louisiana Gene Therapy and Cancer Consortia). These viruses are tested in zenograft mouse models using human breast cancer cells. A significant effort is focused on the production of vaccines for West Nile virus, herpes B virus and Simian Retrovirus using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and adenovirus-based vectors. This work is carried out in collaboration with the Tulane National Research Primate Center (Dr. Preston Marx). A fourth research interest of Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas laboratory is the molecular biology and pathogenesis of human and bovine coronaviruses. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas has derived and compared the entire genomic nucleotide sequence of several respiratory and enteric bovine coronaviruses and identified specific nucleotide changes, which may be associated with virus tropism. Dr. K. Gus Kousoulas is particularly interested in the structure and function of the viral spike glycoproteins encoded by the SARS coronavirus and respiratory bovine coronaviruses, which are known to promote virus entry into susceptible cells and virus-induced membrane fusion phenomena.

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