Charles Wood, PhD

Lewis Lehr/3M University Professor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, School of Biological Sciences
Director, Nebraska Center for Virology
102 C Morrison Center
Lincoln, NE 68583-0900
Phone: 402.472.4550 Fax: 402.472.3323

Please visit our Lab Webpage

HIV and Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus Pathogenesis

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a devastating disease that is caused by a retrovirus known as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Infected individuals are not only immunosuppressed but also frequently develop malignancies, such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma. The Wood laboratory has been involved in the molecular biology of HIV and a recently identified human herpesvirus associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) named KSHV.

KSHV has been linked to HIV and Kaposi’s sarcoma but its route of transmission and whether infection by this virus can directly cause KS are not known. Dr. Wood’s laboratory has found that the infection rate is extremely high in Zambia, a central African nation that lies in the heart of the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Wood’s study involves the recruitment of mother/infant pairs at birth to determine (1) the seroprevalence for HIV and KSHV, (2) whether KSHV DNA can be found in infants’ blood, and (3) to determine the source of vertical and/or horizontal transmission.

One of the laboratory’s findings is that HIV infects 30% of Zambia’s normal female population and 40% are infected by KSHV. Therefore, the implications for disease development and transmission of both HIV and KSHV to babies are enormous. Given this high incidence of infection, the Wood lab has been studying whether KSHV can be transmitted from mothers to their newborns, whether infected children will develop KS, and whether HIV is a co-factor for transmission.

The laboratory has also found that almost all Zambian HIV are of subgroup C and are rapidly spreading in Zambia. Unfortunately, very little is known about subgroup C’s viral biological properties, pathogenesis, and genetic evolution in infected individuals. Dr. Wood has been characterizing a panel of subtype C HIV isolated from infected infants at various time points after birth to understand the natural evolution of these viruses and to correlate them to disease progression. The goal of these studies is to better understand the biology of this virus and its transmission so that strategies can be developed to block its transmission. Studies are now underway to generate a chimeric virus between the subtype C HIV-1 and a simian immunodeficiency virus so that an animal model can be generated to test various strategies to block vertical HIV transmission.

Another focus of the Wood laboratory is the control of KSHV replication at the molecular level. KSHV characteristically establishes latent infections in target cells where viral gene expression is highly limited and tightly controlled. The virus can then periodically reactivate to go through lytic replication. Although latent infection may play a role in sustained viral infection and tumorigeneisis, lytic reactivation has been implicated to be important for KS development. Therefore, the understanding of how the virus maintains latency and of the viral genes involved is of significance. The laboratory has been studying a viral gene called “Regulator of Transcription Activation” (RTA), which is the central gene involved in the switch from latent to lytic replication. The laboratory has identified a cellular factor that interacts with RTA and enhances its transactivation function, and is actively deciphering the molecular mechanism involved in their interaction and transactivation of viral gene transcription. This study will lead to the development of strategies in preventing the virus from going through lytic replication and KS development.

Selected Recent Articles

1. Tso FY, Lidenge SJ, Peña PB, Clegg AA, Ngowi JR, Mwaiselage J, Ngalamika O, Julius P, West JT, Wood C. 2020. High prevalence of pre-existing serological cross-reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 in sub-Sahara Africa. Int J Infect Dis. 2021, 102:577-583. Nov 8:S1201-9712(20)32310-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2020.10.104. PMID: 33176202.

2. Ngalamika O, Tso FY, Lidenge SJ, Munsaka S, Shea D, Wood C and West TJ. 2020. Outcome Markers of ART-Treated HIV+ Patients with Early Stage Kaposi’s Sarcoma. PloS One. Jul 7;15(7):e0235865. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235865. PMID: 32634155; PMCID: PMC7340279.

3. Poppe L, Wood C, and West J. 2020. The presence of Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity-Mediating Antibodies in Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus-Seropositive individuals does not correlate with disease pathogenesis or progression. J Immunol.. Sep 30;ji2000489. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2000489. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32998986.

4. Bennett SJ, Chunda-Liyoka C, Poppe LK, Meinders K, Chileshe C, West JT and Wood C. 2020 High NNRTI resistance levels in HIV-1 infected Zambian mother-infant pairs. AIDS. Jul 23. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002614. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32732629.

5. Poppe LK, Kankasa C, Wood C and West J. 2020. Relationships between maternal antibody responses and early childhood infection with Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus. J Infect Dis. Oct 13;222(10):1723-1730. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa288. PMID: 32459337.

6. Lidenge SJ, Kossenkov AV, Tso FY, Wickramasinghe J, Privatt SR, Ngalamika O, Ngowi JR, Mwaiselage J, Lieberman PM, West JT, and Wood C. 2020. Comparative Transcriptome Analysis of Endemic and Epidemic Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) Lesions and the Secondary Role of HIV-1 in KS Pathogenesis. PLoS Pathog. Jul 24;16(7):e1008681. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008681. eCollection PMID: 32706839; PMCID: PMC7406108

7. Lidenge SJ, Tso FY, Mortazavi,Y, Mortazavi Y, Ngowi JR, Shea DM, Mwaiselage J, Wood C, and West JT. 2020. Viral and Immunological Analytes Are Poor Predictors of the Clinical Treatment Response in Kaposi’s sarcoma Patients. Jun 16;12(6):1594. doi: 10.3390/cancers12061594. PMID: 32560243; PMCID: PMC7352224

8. Lidenge SJ, Tso FY, Ngalamika O, Kolape J, Ngowi JR, Mwaiselage J, Wood C, and West JT. 2020. Lack of CD8+ T-cell co-localization with Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infected cells in Kaposi’s sarcoma tumors. Oncotarget. Apr 28;11(17):1556-1572. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27569. PMID: 32391124; PMCID: PMC7197452.

9. Lidgenge SJ, Tran T, Tso FY, Ngowi JR, Shea DM, Mwaiselage J, Wood C, West JT. 2020. Prevalence of Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus and Transfusion-transmissible Infections in Tanzanian Blood Donors. Int J Infect Dis. Jun;95:204-209. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2020.04.018. PMID: 32294540

10. Mortazavi Y, Lidenge SJ, Tran T, West JT, Wood C and Tso FY. 2020. The Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) gH/gL Complex is the Predominant Neutralizing Antigenic Determinant in KSHV-Infected Individuals. Viruses. Feb 26;12(3):256. doi: 10.3390/v12030256. PMID: 32111001; PMCID: PMC7150787.

11. Kwon EH, Musema GMA, Boelter J, Townsend S, Tshala-Katumbay D, Kayembe PK, West J, and Wood C. 2020. HIV-1 Subtypes and Drug Resistance Mutations among Female Sex Workers Varied in Different Cities and Regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. PLoS One. Feb 11;15(2):e0228670. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228670. PMID: 32045455; PMCID: PMC7012409.

12. Klein C, Kahesa C, Mwaiselage J, West J, Wood C, and Angeletti PC. 2020. How the Cervical Microbiota Contributes to Cervical Cancer Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa. Front

Cellular Infect Microbiol. Feb 12;10:23. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.00023. PMID: 32117800; PMCID: PMC7028704.

13. Chunda-Liyoka C; Lubeya MK, Imakando M, Kisling S, Majid S, Willis MS, Wood C, Kankasa C and DiRusso CC. 2020. Healthy Pregnancies and Essential Fats: Focus Group Discussions with Zambian Women on Dietary Need and Acceptability of a Novel RUSF Containing Fish Oil DHA. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. Feb 10;20(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s12884-020-2783-8. PMID: 32041569; PMCID: PMC7011535.


University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
BA, Chemistry & Microbiology

Columbia University, New York, NY
PhD, Microbiology

Basal Institute of Technology
Postdoc, Molecular Immunology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Postdoc, Molecular Immunology

Professsional Experience

Research Assistant, Laboratory of Professor Elvin A Kabat; Dept. of Microbiology
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY

Research Associate in the Laboratory of Professor Susumu Tonegawa
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Staff Scientist (Group Leader), Molecular Immunologist, Cancer Research and Molecular Biology Department
Abbott Labs, North Chicago, IL

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Director, Div. of Neurovirology; Associate Professor, Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology and Neurology
University of Miami, Miami, FL

Lewis Lerh/3M Professor, School of Biological Sciences
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Director, Nebraska Center for Virology
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Honors and Professional Affiliations

  • NIAID Review Panel Member (2003- 2008)
  • Review Panel Member, California University wide AIDS Research Program (1997-current)
  • Ad Hoc Member, AIDS and Related Research (AOIC) Ad Hoc member (2001-current), NIDCR AIDS Malignancies Special Panel (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
  • Site visit reviewer for John’s Hopkin’s, (1998, 1999), Princeton (2000), for NCI Intramural Program (2000)
  • Member, AIDS and Related Research study session (1994-1999)
  • Ad Hoc reviewer for USDA (1992-1995)
  • Ad Hoc reviewer for FDA (1990-1992)
  • Sigma Xi
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • University of Nebraska College of Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement in Science Award (2003)
  • Sigma Xi Most Outstanding Scientist Award (2005)
  • Chair, special review panel (1999, 2001, 2005)
  • Member of the Kansas University AIDS task force (1990-1992)
  • Scientific advisor to Kansas governor's AIDS task force (1988-1992)
  • Midwestern State University Association lecturer (1989-90)
  • Cora Downs Award for most distinguished undergraduate
  • Editorial board: Open AIDS Journal (Editor-in-chief), Current HIV Research (Editor-in-Chief), Open Infectious Disease Journal, Journal of Neurovirology, Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology