Credentials: Cancer Biology Graduate Program
Position title: Lambert Laboratory 2015-Current
M6459 WIMR, II
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705
Research Title: Discerning the Significance of Stem Cells in Papillomavirus Infection
Research Description: Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are associated with 5% of human cancers. Ruben Moreno studies papillomavirus-induced pathogenesis in the Lambert laboratory. Recently, the first papillomavirus discovered to naturally infect laboratory mice was discovered, providing investigators the ability to make use of the power of mouse genetics to study papillomavirus-related pathogenesis. The Lambert laboratory has initiated studies of this virus, making use of its long-time experience in using mouse models to study the role of HPV oncogenes in cancer. The Lambert laboratory has already published several studies investigating the role of this mouse papillomavirus in causing disease in the skin, including papillomas and squamous cell carcinomas, and the role of the host immune system in controlling papillomavirus infections. Ruben’s project is focused on identifying the cell of origin of both benign and malignant disease caused by papillomavirus infections. There has long been posed the question whether papillomaviruses establish persistent infections because they infect epithelial progenitor cells or because they infect and reprogram more differentiated cells to become long-lived. Using genetically engineered mice expressing lineage tracer markers for various epithelial cell types, Ruben is beginning to identify what cell types, when infected by mouse papillomavirus, give rise to papillomas and/or carcinomas. He has acquired the necessary strains of mice expressing these lineage tracers, and is now establishing conditions in which to carry out these in vivo studies, which will involve both endpoint analyses as well as real-time imaging of mouse skin using 2 photon microscopy. In addition to these studies, Ruben is assessing the role of specific viral genes in papillomavirus pathogenesis, using viruses in which individual viral genes have been mutated.