Howard Lipton, MD

Website: Lipton Lab
Photo of Howard Lipton MD

Biographical Info

University of Nebraska


Research Interest

Our lab has had a long-term interest in the pathogenesis and mechanisms of the persistence of virus infections, but is now also focused on finding a novel virus in autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).   While an autoimmune mechanism  in MS remains unproven immune-mediated tissue damage may result from a persistent virus infection in which the host immune response is directed at viral- rather than self-proteins.  An unbiased approach to viral discovery without a priori knowledge of an agent is being pursued to identify highly divergent viruses related to known members of a virus family or entirely novel viruses.  Pathogen discovery relies on RNA library preparation from “targeted” tissues and next-generation sequencing to find a needle-in-a-haystack, i. e., ultra-low abundance viral sequences in a massive and largely irrelevant dataset consisting of host RNA sequences.  In this setting, methods reliant on dsRNA have been developed to enrich for viral sequences by 100- to 1000-fold.

A basis for pathogen discovery in MS is the existence of experimental animal models of virus-induced demyelinating diseases in their natural host.  We have spent more than 30 years investigating one such model, Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) infection in mice.   Currently, we are interested in elucidating mechanisms that enable this ordinary lytic picornavirus to cause persistent infection in macrophages recruited into the central nervous system of mice.  The focus is on virus-induced apoptosis through the intrinsic p53 pathway in macrophages, that may perpetuate infection through extracellular spread of infected apoptotic cellular blebs to uninfected macrophages, thereby evading host virus-specific immune responses.


Laboratory Members

Kyung No Son, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor

Zhiguo Liang, M.A.*
Research Scientist

Patricia Kallio, B.S.
Senior Research Technician

Robert Galvin
Laboratory Assistant

*Awarded by Beijing University at a time when Ph.D. degrees were not awarded and an M.A. was the highest degree.



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Categories: Microbiology & Immunology Department Emeritus Faculty