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. Wang L, Kang G, Kumar P, Lu W, Li Y, Zhou Y, Li Q, Wood C. 2014.  Humanized-BLT Mouse Model of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Infection.  Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA. 111(8):  3146-3151. PMID: 24516154, PMCID: In Process.
  2. Zhang T, Yang Y, Yu F, Zhao Y, Lin F, Minhas V, Wood C, He N. 2014. Kaposi`s sarcoma associated herpesvirus infection among female sex workers and general population women in Shanghai, China: a cross-sectional study. BMC Infect Dis. 2014 Feb 5;14 (1):58. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-14-58. PMID: 24498947, PMCID: in process.
  3. Crabtree K, Wojcicki J, Minhas V, Smith D, Chipepo Kankasa C, Mitchell C, and Wood C. 2014. Risk Factors for Early Childhood Infection of Human Herpesvirus-8 in Zambian Children: The Role of Early Childhood Feeding Practices. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. PMID: 24296855, PMCID: In Process.
  4. Kwon E, Minhas V, Phiri T, Wood C, Swindells S, Hunsley BA, Fernando MR. 2013.  Inactivation and viral load quantitation of human immunodeficiency virus in blood collected into Cyto-Chex® BCT blood collection device.  J Virol Methods. 2013 Oct 30. pii: S0166-0934(13)00432-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2013.10.028. PMID: 24184086.
  5. Kumar P, Wood C.  2013.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus Transactivator Rta Induces Cell Cycle Arrest in G0/G1 Phase by Stabilizing and Promoting Nuclear Localization of p27kip.  J Virol. 2013 Sep 25.  PMID: 24067984, PMCID: PMC3838229.
  6. Kumar P., Kuwa, N., Minhas, V., Marimo, C., Shea, D., Kankasa C. and Wood, C. 2013. Higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against KSHV in KS patients compared to asymptomatic individuals. PLoS One, 8(8): e71254.  PMCID: PMC3743886
  7. Cao Y., Minhas V., Tan, X., Huang J., Wang B., Zhu M., Gao Y., Zhao T., Yang L. and Wood, C. 2013. High prevalence of early childhood infection by KSHV in a minority population in China. Clin Microbiol Infect. Jul 18. doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12340 (Epub ahead of print).  PMID: 23992104, PMCID: PMC3868646.
  8. Bohl, C., Bowder, D., Thompson, J., Abrahamyan, L., Gonzalez-Ramirez  S., Mao Y., Sodroski, J., Wood, C., Xiang, S. 2013.  A twin-cysteine motif in the V2 region of gp120 is associated with SIV envelope trimer stabilization. PLoS One, 8(7):e69359. PMCID: PMC3720275
  9. Guo, H., Liu, C., Geng, Y., Chen, Q., Wood, C., Kong, X. 2013. Analysis of primary resistance mutations to HIV-1 entry inhibitors in therapy naive subtype C HIV-1 infected mother-infant pairs from Zambia. J Clin Virology, 58: 233– 239.  PMID: 23809473, PMCID: In Process.
  10. Bohl, C., Abrahamyan, L. and Wood, C. 2013. Human Ubc9 is involved in intracellular HIV-1 Env stability after trafficking out of the trans-Golgi network in a Gag dependent manner. PLoS One, 8(7):e69359.  PMCID: PMC3704627
  11. Tso, FY., Abrahamyan, L., Hu, S H., Ruprecht, R. and Wood, C. 2013. Variations in the biological functions of HIV-1 clade C envelope in a SHIV-infected rhesus macaque during disease progression. PLoS One, 8 (6):e66973. PMCID: PMC3694120
  12. Rao V., Neogi, U., Talboom, J., Padilla, L., Rahman, M., Fritz-French, C., Gonzalez, S., Wood, C., Ruprecht, R., Ranga, U., Azim, T., Joska, J., Eugenin, E., Shet, A., Bimonte-Nelson, H., Tyor, W. and Prasad, V. 2013.  Clade C HIV-1 isolates circulating in Southern Africa exhibit a greater frequency of dicysteine motif-containing Tat variants than those in Southeast Asia and cause increased neurovirulence. Retrovirology 10:61.  PMCID: PMC3686704
  13. Smith A., Wood C. and West J. 2013.  HIV-1 Env C2-V4 Diversification in a Slow-Progressor Infant Reveals a Flat but Rugged Fitness Landscape  PLoS One, 8(4):e63094. PMCID: PMC3639246
  14. Joseph J., Achim C., Boivin M., Brew B., Clifford D., Colosi D., Ellis R., Heaton R., Gallo-Diop A., Grant I., Kanmogne G., Kumar M., Letendre S., Marcotte T., Nath A., Pardo C., Paul R., Pullian L., Robertson K., Royal W., Sacktor N, Sithinamsuwan P., Smith D., Valcour V., Wigdahl B and Wood C. Global NeuroAIDS roundtable 2013.   (Review). J Neurovirology 19(1):1-9.  PMCID: PMC3713197
  15. Gonzalez, S., Tully, D C., Gondwe, C., Wood, C. 2013. Low-Abundance Resistant Mutations in HIV-1 Subtype C Antiretroviral Therapy-Naïve Individuals as Revealed by Pyrosequencing Current HIV Research, 11:43-49. PMID: 23305169
  16. Zhang, T., Lin, H., Minhas, V., Zhu, V., Wood, C., He, N. 2013. Prevalence and Correlates of Kaposi`s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus Infection among A Sample of Men Having Sex with Men in Eastern China. Epidemiology and Infection. 141(9):1823-30.  PMID: 23114099
  17. Olp, L., Shea, D., White, M., Kankasa, C., Wood, C. 2013. Early Childhood Infection of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus in Zambian Households: a Molecular Analysis. Int J Cancer, 132(5):1182-90. PMCID: PMC3535687 


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