Taro Ohkawa
PubMed | Google Scholar

Research Interests

The goal of my research is to define the mechanisms by which the baculovirus Autographa californica M nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) manipulates the host cell actin cytoskeleton throughout the viral replication cycle. This work is carried out using viral genetics, including the manipulation of the AcMNPV viral genome by gene deletion, gene tagging, and the introduction of genes encoding fluorescent protein fusions. It also involves advanced imaging methods to examine infected cells and elucidate how the virus affects cellular actin. For example, using fluorescent labeling of viral nucleocapsids and actin in living cells, I discovered that AcMNPV uses actin-based motility for transit to the nucleus.  My ongoing research includes studying how AcMNPV uses actin-based motility for pre-replication transit from cell-to-cell, as well as determining the function of nuclear-localized actin and actin-based motility during the post-replication/egress stage. Our synthesis of molecular virology and cell biology has led to unprecedented advances in uderstanding viral mechanisms of transport and viral usage of the actin cytoskeleton, and is also leading to advances in understanding the function and regulation of actin in uninfected cells.