My interests have been placed on reemerging infectious diseases and biodefense research. I am trying to understand how pathogens manipulate host factors for their own benefit and how host combats the invading pathogens.
Extensive Research Description
I am primarily interested in host-pathogen interaction, with a focus on RNA viruses in vivo and in vitro. Specifically, I wish to understand pathogenic mechanisms of viral infection at the cellular and animal levels, and study the molecular function of host genes that influence viral pathogenesis and the disease outcomes. On the host side, I am keen on the innate immune system, detection of viruses and initiation of antiviral immune response. On the virus side, I wish to understand the mechanisms of immune evasion.
The Flaviviridae family consists of a large number of ssRNA viruses that cause fatal human diseases. For example, West Nile virus (WNV) is the culprit of thousands of encephalitis/meningitis cases and deaths since 1999. Dengue virus (DENV) infects 50 to 100 million people worldwide a year with a mortality of 1–5% if untreated. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects ~3% of the world's population and causes 350,000 deaths yearly. I attempt to identify novel host factors that restrict or facilitate virus pathogenesis in vivo and in vitro. These factors may be regulators of host antiviral immune pathways or participants of viral life cycle including surface receptors mediating viral entry. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of these disease conditions and virus specific host immune response can advance the development of specific antiviral therapeutics and vaccines.
1. Roles of NLRs in antiviral immune responses and the pathogenesis of West Nile viral encephalitis
2. Roles of UBXNs in antiviral immune responses
UBXN1 interferes with RIG-I like receptor signaling.
1. Penghua Wang, Long Yang, Gong Cheng, Erol Fikrig and Richard Sutton. UBXN1 interferes with RIG-I like receptor signaling. Cell Reports 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.02.027.
IL-22 contributes to West Nile virus encephalitis via neutrophils.
2. Penghua Wang (correspondence author), Fengwei Bai , Lauren A. Zenewicz, Jianfeng Dai, Long Yang, David Gate, Eric Cheng, Richard A. Flavell, Terrence Town, Erol Fikrig. IL-22 contributes to West Nile virus encephalitis via neutrophils. PLoS ONE 2012,
Caspase-12 controls West Nile virus infection via the viral RNA receptor RIG-I.
Wang P, Arjona A, Zhang Y, Sultana H, Dai J, Yang L, LeBlanc PM, Doiron K, Saleh M, Fikrig E. Caspase-12 controls West Nile virus infection via the viral RNA receptor RIG-I. Nature Immunology 2010, 11:912-9. 2010
A mosquito C-type lectin facilitates West Nile virus infection via a CD45 homologue.
4 Gong Cheng, Jonathan Cox, Penghua Wang, Manoj N. Krishnan, Jianfeng Dai, Feng Qian, John F. Anderson and Erol Fikrig. A mosquito C-type lectin facilitates West Nile virus infection via a CD45 homologue. Cell 2010,142(5):714-25
Matrix metalloproteinase 9 facilitates West Nile virus entry into the brain.
Wang P, Dai J, Bai F, Kong KF, Wong SJ, Montgomery RR, Madri JA, Fikrig E. Matrix metalloproteinase 9 facilitates West Nile virus entry into the brain. Journal Of Virology 2008, 82:8978-85. 2008