Skip to main content

Research Overview

Watch Li Wu's TED-style Talk: 

Starving HIV in Cells

Research Summary

HIV infection is the leading killer worldwide among infectious diseases, incurring 2-3 million deaths annually. HIV has infected a total of more than 60 million people and over a third of them have died of AIDS. Defining the mechanisms of HIV transmission and understanding the role of immune cells and host factors that participate in the transmission process are essential in developing effective strategies to combat HIV infection. Our research focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which immune cells disseminate or restrict HIV infection. These studies can facilitate the development of more effective interventions against HIV infection and transmission.

We are currently focusing on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying HIV-1 restriction by the host protein SAMHD1, which is the first identified mammalian dNTP triphosphohydrolase (dNTPase). We also investigate functional significance and the mechanisms by which N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification of HIV-1 RNA regulates viral gene expression in cells. These studies can facilitate the development of more effective interventions against HIV infection and transmission.

Moreover, we are exploring the role of SAMHD1 in cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Discovery of new mechanisms leading to loss of SAMHD1 protein expression and functions may support the development of strategies to re-induce SAMHD1 gene expression as a new therapeutic modality in CTCL, AML or other types of cancer.

Current Research Projects in the Wu Lab

  • Mechanisms of SAMHD1-mediated HIV-1 restriction in dendritic cells; 
  • HIV-1 Nef interaction with Nef-associated factor 1 in regulating viral latency;
  • Mechanisms of HIV-1 RNA methylation in regulating viral replication;
  • Functions of SAMHD1 in acute myeloid leukemia development.

Research Highlights

Wu Lab Discoveries Help Combat HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Wu Research Team Works to Combat HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Dr. Wu Receives Prestigious Science Honor