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Molecular Virology and Microbiology

Houston, Texas

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Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology
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Jason T. Kimata, Ph.D.

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 Jason T. Kimata, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Molecular Virology & Microbiology

Research Interests

Retroviral Replication and Pathogenesis

Pathogenicity and fitness of HIV-1 and SIV variants.

Our long-term goals are to understand how HIV exploits, disrupts, and evades the immune response for replication and persistence in the host. We investigate whether the properties of the infecting HIV strain influence viral burden and disease progression. How does genetic variation in the virus influence infection, replication, persistence, and disease? What host factors drive the selection of variant viruses? Because there is currently no model system to directly explore questions about HIV-1 pathogenesis in vivo, we are using the SIV macaque model in our work. A unique set of SIV variants cloned from different stages of infection and disease provide the basis for these studies. Using these viruses, we have shown that variant viruses emerging during the course of infection influence viral load and the rate of disease progression. We are dissecting the pathogenic determinants of SIV variants and determining the functional changes that correlate with increased or decreased replicative fitness in the host in order to better understand how the virus counteracts and evades the host immune response. These studies complement other collaborative studies of HIV-1 and viral burden.

Cross-species transmission, innate restriction, and HIV-1 animal model development.

HIV-1 is the primary virus world-wide causing AIDS. However, because HIV-1 tropism is specific for humans, it has been difficult to develop an animal model of infection and disease. Nonhuman primates are not typically susceptible to infection by HIV-1, but a rare exception is the pig-tailed macaque, which can have an acute infection before clearing the virus. We recently found that unlike the rhesus macaque, the primary macaque used for SIV-AIDS studies, the pigtailed macaque is susceptible to HIV-1 infection mainly because it does not express a key intrinsic retroviral resistance factor, TRIM5. Furthermore, we have recently developed a novel HIV-1/SIV chimera that is 94% HIV-1 and able to replicate in CD4+ T-cells from pig-tailed macaques nearly as well as SIV. This chimera also persistently replicates in pig-tailed macaques. Current studies include evaluating adaptations in the virus and if it will cause disease in the host and defining other important innate effector molecules controlling HIV-1 in the macaque host. These studies should deepen our understanding of HIV-1 transmission and pathogenesis. Ultimately, this model may enable preclinical testing of novel antiretroviral therapies and vaccines. It can also be applied to studies of viral latency and curative treatment strategies.

Contact Information

Department of Molecular Virology & Microbiology
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza, MS BCM385
Houston, TX, 77030, U.S.A.

Phone: 713-798-4536
Fax: 713-798-3490


Ph.D. - Washington University, St. Louis
Postdoctoral - University of Washington, Seattle

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Arora R, R Thippeshappa, L Bull, E Siwak, RC Arduino, and JT Kimata. Dendritic cell-mediated HIV-1 infection of T-cells demonstrates a direct relationship to plasma viral RNA levels. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 54:115-121 (2010)

Wen M, R Arora, H Wang, L Lui, JT Kimata, and P Zhou. GPI-anchored single chain Fv- an effective way to capture conformation-induced neutralization epitopes on HIV-1 envelope spike. Retrovirology 7:79 (2010)

Biesinger T, R White, MT Yu Kimata, BK Wilson, JS Allan, and JT Kimata. Relative replication capacity of phenotypic SIV variants during primary infections differs with route of inoculation. Retrovirology 7:88 (2010)

Thippeshappa, R, P Polacino, MT Yu Kimata, EB Siwak, D Anderson, W Wang, L Sherwood, R Arora, M Wen, P Zhou, SL Hu, and JT Kimata. Overcoming intrinsic immunity enables persistent replication of HIV-1 in pig-tailed macaques. J Virol 85:3767-3779 (2011)

Liu L, M Wen, W Wang, M Qian, L Zhang, Y Shao, JT Kimata, and P Zhou. Potent and broad anti-HIV-1 activity exhibited by a GPI-anchored peptide derived from the CDR H3 of broadly neutralizing antibody PG16. J Virol 85: 8467-8476 (2011)

*Gingaras C, *BP Danielson, KJ Vigil, E Vey, RC Arduino, and JT Kimata. Absence of XMRV in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ARV-treatment naïve HIV-1 infected and HIV-1/HCV coinfected individuals and blood donors. PLoS One 7:e31398 (2012) *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Belshan M, JT Kimata, C Brown, X Cheng, A McCulley, A Larsen, R Thippeshappa, V Hodara, L Giavedoni, V Hirsch, and L Ratner. Vpx is critical for SIVmne infection of pigtail macaques. Retrovirology9:32 (2012)


Rajesh Thippeshappa