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Maria Kalamvokis, PhD

Maria Kalamvokis portrait
Associate Professor, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology

Professional Background

My laboratory focuses on mechanisms through which herpes simplex virus (HSV) counteracts host anti-viral responses, including innate immune responses. Innate immunity plays a pivotal role in controlling the replication, spread, latency, and the severity of HSV-associated diseases.
My laboratory emphasizes in three main directions:
1) The impact of HSV-1 infection on intercellular communication mediated by extracellular vesicles (EVs). Extracellular vesicles are released by all types of cells as a means of intercellular communication. Their significance lies in the fact that they can alter recipient cell functions despite their limited capacity for cargo. Our working hypothesis is that HSV-1 infection alters the properties and functions of the released EVs, and this can have consequences on viral infection, virus persistence in the host, and HSV-1-mediated pathogenesis.
2) The mechanism by which HSV-1 counteracts the actions of major pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). The significance of this project stems from the observation that mutations in selected PRRs are linked to severe HSV-associated diseases.
3) The functions of the immediate-early protein of the virus ICP0, and its potential to serve as a novel antiviral target. ICP0 is a promiscuous transactivator and an E3 ubiquitin ligase with essential roles during the early steps of the infection. Its major functions are to activate viral gene transcription and to counteract host antiviral responses. My laboratory discovered two novel ICP0 functions. One function is linked to endocytosis of cell surface receptors. The other function is linked to down-regulation of two major autophagy adaptors to inhibit autophagy. Both functions are important for a successful infection.

Several findings of our work are tested in other herpes viruses to determine shared mechanisms.

A list of our published work can be found below:

Education and Training
  • BSc, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • PhD, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece & Hellenic Pasteur Institute
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, University of Chicago
Professional Affiliations
  • American Society of Microbiology, Member, 2016 - Present
  • American Society of Virology, Member, 2016 - Present
  • Center for Viral Pathogenesis - KUMC, Center for Viral Pathogenesis - KUMC, Member, 2016 - Present