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The School of Natural Sciences


Differential Susceptibility of Differentiated Neural Stems Cells to HHV6A versus HHV6B

Ruben Michael Ceballos, PhD

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Arkansas


Wednesday, March 9th, 2022


Location: S&E1 270K

To Zoom in, please use this link: https://ucmerced.zoom.us/j/86383396903



Within the family Herpesviridae, subfamily -herpesvirinae, there are three human herpesviruses: HHV-6A, HHV-6B, and HHV-7. HHV-6A and HHV-6B were initially considered two variants of the same virus. Despite high overall genetic sequence identity (~90%), HHV-6A and HHV-6B are now recognized as two distinct viruses. Sequence divergence (e.g., >30%) in key coding regions and significant differences in physiological profiles (e.g., use of different receptors for viral entry) supports the conclusion that HHV-6A and HHV-6B are distinct viruses. Despite these viruses being implicated as causative agents in several nervous system disorders, including epilepsy, the mechanisms of action and relative contributions of each virus are unclear. Unresolved questions regarding differences in cell tropism, receptor use/binding affinity, immunological responses, and relative virulence between HHV-6A versus HHV-6B prevent a complete characterization. Immunofluorescence data suggest that both HHV-6A and HHV-6B can productively infect VGluT1-containing cells and dopamine-containing cells. However, neither virus appears to infect GAD67-containing cells. Using RT-qPCR, expression of immunological factors in cells infected with HHV-6A versus HHV6-B also differs. Cumulatively, data suggest that HHV-6A is more virulent than HHV-6B in susceptible nerve cells.



Ruben Michael Ceballos completed a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a master’s degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a doctorate (PhD) in Integrative Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of Montana (Missoula, MT). Dr. Ceballos was awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation PhD traineeship through the Montana Ecology of Infectious Disease IGERT program, an Alfred P. Sloan Indigenous Graduate Program fellowship, a Ford Foundation Dissertation fellowship, and NASA MIRS fellowship. He has studied extremophile microbiology for more than a decade with a focus on thermotolerant viruses and the development of biotechnology from thermophilic proteins. More recently, he has expanded his work in virology and virus ecology to study multiple virus systems across domains of life.



For more information, please contact:

Prof. Jennifer Manilay at jmanilay@ucmerced.edu.      


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