Leslie J. Parent

Parent Leslie

Dr. Parent’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the assembly of retrovirus particles. Her laboratory members uses genetic, biochemical, biophysical, and live-cell imaging approaches to dissect the viral and cellular factors that mediate the trafficking of retroviral proteins and genomic RNA molecules in infected cells. Their investigation of the host factors involved in transport of retroviral proteins and RNAs throughout the cell is at the interface of virology and cellular biology.

Recent work in Dr. Parent’s laboratory has focused on studying how retroviruses recognize their RNA genomes and select them for incorporation into virions. She has adopted a comparative retrovirology approach by comparing and contrasting the replication strategies of Rous sarcoma virus, mouse mammary tumor virus, and human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Members of her laboratory discovered that the Gag protein of Rous sarcoma virus undergoes nuclear trafficking, with nuclear export mediated by the host CRM1 protein. Nucleocytoplasmic trafficking of the Rous sarcoma virus Gag protein is required for efficient incorporation of genomic RNA into virions. This model for how retroviruses select and incorporate genomic RNA into virus particles represents a paradigm shift. She is also investigating the early steps in virus particle assembly, with the goal of discovering how to interfere with transmission of virions from cell to cell. A third area of focus examines how retroviruses engage host mRNA processing machinery during the process of virion assembly.

Dr. Parent earned her M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine and completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Penn State College of Medicine. She participates in the training of medical students, residents, and fellows in clinical Infectious Diseases. She is Co-Director of the Penn State MD/PhD Program, where she is involved in mentoring the next generation of physician-scientists.

Link to Dr. Parent’s webpage:

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