Vincent Racaniello

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Vincent R. Racaniello
Born (1953-01-02) January 2, 1953 (age 64)
Paterson, New Jersey
Citizenship American
Fields Microbiology
Institutions Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
Alma mater Cornell University (B.A.) (1974)
Mount Sinai Medical Center (Ph.D) (1980)
MIT (Post-doctoral)
Known for CD155 (poliovirus receptor, PVR)

Vincent R. Racaniello (born January 2, 1953 in Paterson, New Jersey) is a Higgins Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.[1] He is one of four virologists who has recently authored Principles of Virology,[2] a textbook used by many teaching virology to undergraduate, medical and graduate students.

As an esteemed member of the scientific community, Racaniello has received several awards including Irma T. Hirschl, Searle Scholars, Eli Lilly and NIH Merit. He has also been a Harvey Society Lecturer at Rockefeller University, the Hilleman Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and University Lecturer at Columbia University. Racaniello has served on the editorial boards of scientific journals, including the Journal of Virology,[3] and is a community editor for the open access journal PLOS Pathogens.[4] He also served as the 2015 president of the American Society for Virology.[5][6]


Racaniello graduated from Cornell University in 1974 (BA, biological sciences) and completed his PhD in the laboratory of Peter Palese in 1980,[7] studying genetic reassortment of influenza virus. As a post-doctoral fellow in David Baltimore's laboratory at MIT (1979–1982), Racaniello used recombinant DNA technology to clone and sequence the genome of the small RNA animal virus poliovirus. Using these tools he generated the first infectious clone of an animal RNA virus.[8] Construction of the infectious clone revolutionized modern virology.


Racaniello established his own research laboratory at Columbia University in the fall of 1982.[9] The aim of his laboratory is to understand replication and pathogenesis of small RNA animal viruses Picornaviruses. The life cycle of a virus begins with its attachment to and entry into the cytoplasm of a cell. His laboratory identified CD155 (poliovirus receptor, PVR); a cell surface protein, and member of the immunoglobin superfamily as the protein that mediates this process.[10][11] Understanding how the interaction between virus and cell alters the viral particle and how virus entry is facilitated by the interaction has helped elucidate the means by which poliovirus infection is initiated.[12][13]

Humans are the only known natural host for poliovirus. The study of viral disease is therefore only feasible with the generation of a small animal model. Though not susceptible to poliovirus infection, murine cells do allow for efficient replication of poliovirus RNA introduced into the cytoplasm. Taking advantage of this observation, Racaniello’s laboratory constructed the first small animal model of poliomyelitis. Mice producing the human CD155 protein were generated and infected with poliovirus.[14] These mice exhibited all symptoms and pathology of poliomyelitis observed in humans including flaccid paralysis and spinal cord lesions. These mice today are used not only to continue to understand poliovirus pathogenesis but as a means to test the safety of stocks of the polio vaccine.

Poliomyelitis is a disease of the central nervous system; however it is believed that CD155 is present on the surface of most if not all cells of the body. An element present within the virus RNA was hypothesized to govern viral tropism which tissues the virus infected. Newborn mice producing PVR were infected with wild-type poliovirus and a chimeric poliovirus in which this element was replaced with the same region from hepatitis C virus, a liver specific virus, or coxsackievirus B3, a virus that infects the heart or meninges. Mice infected with any of these viruses exhibited symptoms of poliomyelitis. Therefore this region of poliovirus does not determine tissue tropism of the virus.[15]

Secretion of interferon is one means the body uses to ward off pathogens including viral diseases. However poliovirus is able to replicate when interferon is added to medium used to culture mammalian cells. Racaniello’s laboratory believes that this resistance is dictated by the 2A protein of poliovirus.[16][17] Racaniello’s laboratory continues to investigate how poliovirus circumvents the immune response of the host enhancing our understanding of its pathogenesis and why it is a disease of the central nervous system.

Research after poliovirus[edit]

Even though global eradication of poliovirus was initiated in 1988, and poliovirus infection continues throughout the world today, Racaniello’s laboratory has begun to investigate the life cycle and pathogenesis of other picornaviruses similar to poliovirus. These viruses include enterovirus 70 (EV70), human rhinovirus, coxsackievirus A21 and echovirus 1. Infectious clones of EV70 and several serotypes of rhinoviruses were generated.[18][19][20] These reagents have been used to understand how host range of a virus can be altered and to identify cellular proteins necessary for replication of the viral RNA. Racaniello has also begun to study how these viruses evade the host innate immune system, in particular Interferon type I response. Infection of cultured cells with human rhinovirus 1A results in the cleavage of the integral component IPS-1 (MAVS, Cardif).[21] In addition a small animal model of virus echovirus 1 pathogenesis has been established.[22]

Racaniello is also interested in picornavirus evolution and movement. To this means, he intends to isolate and identify picornaviruses found in the wild throughout the Northeastern United States.

Racaniello’s laboratory continues to pursue the fundamental principles of virus biology.[23] With the global decline of poliovirus, Racaniello's lab has taken a particular interest in Zika virus.[24]

Science beyond the laboratory[edit]

Understanding that the World Wide Web is a primary scientific tool, Racaniello is one of the co-creators of BioCrowd,[25] a social network designed to bring together scientists of all disciplines. Racaniello's virology blog,[26] and podcasts This Week in Virology,[27] This Week in Parasitism[28] with colleague Dickson Despommier[29] and This Week in Microbiology[30] with Michael Schmidt and Elio Schaechter also unify science with technology. His blog, podcasts, specialized pages on Influenza 101[31] and Virology 101[32] aim to bring microbiology to non-scientists. Continuing to bring virology to those outside of the field, Racaniello established a library containing podcasts of lectures he has recently given at Columbia University.[33]


Racaniello is listed as inventor on at least 12 patents.[34]


  1. ^ "Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons". 
  2. ^ S. J. Flint L.; V. R. Racaniello; G.F. Rall; A.M. Skalka (August 2015). Principles of Animal Virology - 4rd Edition. ASM Press. ISBN 1-55581-443-3. 
  3. ^ "Journal of Virology". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "PLOS Pathogens". PLOS. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "American Society for Virology". 
  6. ^ American Society for Virology
  7. ^ "Palese Laboratory". Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Racaniello, Vincent R.; David Baltimore (1981-11-20). "Cloned Poliovirus Complementary DNA is Infectious in Mammalian Cells". Science. New Series. 214 (4523): 916–919. doi:10.1126/science.6272391. JSTOR 1686330. PMID 6272391. 
  9. ^ "Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D.". Columbia Faculty Profile: Vincent Racaniello. Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Mendelsohn, Cathy; Barbara Johnson; Kathryn Ann Lionetti; Peter Nobis; Eckard Wimmer; Vincent R. Racaniello (1986-10-15). "Transformation of a Human Poliovirus Receptor Gene into Mouse Cells". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 83 (20): 7845–7849. doi:10.1073/pnas.83.20.7845. JSTOR 28192. 
  11. ^ Mendelsohn, Cathy L; Eckard Wimmer; Vincent R Racaniello (1989). "Cellular receptor for poliovirus: molecular cloning, nucleotide sequence, and expression of a new member of the immunoglobulin superfamily". Cell. 56 (5): 855–865. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90690-9. PMID 2538245. 
  12. ^ Tsang, S. K.; B. M. McDermott; V. R. Racaniello; J. M. Hogle (2001-06-01). "Kinetic Analysis of the Effect of Poliovirus Receptor on Viral Uncoating: the Receptor as a Catalyst". Journal of Virology. 75 (11): 4984–4989. doi:10.1128/JVI.75.11.4984-4989.2001. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  13. ^ McDermott, B. M.; A. H. Rux; R. J. Eisenberg; G. H. Cohen; V. R. Racaniello (2000-07-28). "Two Distinct Binding Affinities of Poliovirus for Its Cellular Receptor". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 275 (30): 23089–23096. doi:10.1074/jbc.M002146200. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  14. ^ Ren, R. B.; F. Costantini; E. J. Gorgacz; J. J. Lee; V. R. Racaniello (1990-10-19). "Transgenic mice expressing a human poliovirus receptor: a new model for poliomyelitis". Cell. 63 (2): 353–362. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(90)90168-E. ISSN 0092-8674. PMID 2170026. 
  15. ^ Kauder, Steven E.; Vincent R. Racaniello (2004-06-15). "Poliovirus tropism and attenuation are determined after internal ribosome entry". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 113 (12): 1743–1753. doi:10.1172/JCI21323. ISSN 0021-9738. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  16. ^ O'Neill, R. E.; V. R. Racaniello (December 1989). "Inhibition of translation in cells infected with a poliovirus 2Apro mutant correlates with phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eucaryotic initiation factor 2". Journal of Virology. 63 (12): 5069–5075. ISSN 0022-538X. PMC 251168Freely accessible. PMID 2555543. 
  17. ^ Morrison, J. M.; V. R. Racaniello (2009-05-01). "Proteinase 2Apro Is Essential for Enterovirus Replication in Type I Interferon-Treated Cells". Journal of Virology. 83 (9): 4412–4422. doi:10.1128/JVI.02177-08. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  18. ^ Kim, M. S.; V. R. Racaniello (2007-08-15). "Enterovirus 70 Receptor Utilization Is Controlled by Capsid Residues That Also Regulate Host Range and Cytopathogenicity". Journal of Virology. 81 (16): 8648–8655. doi:10.1128/JVI.01569-06. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  19. ^ Harris, J. R.; V. R. Racaniello (2005-05-01). "Amino Acid Changes in Proteins 2B and 3A Mediate Rhinovirus Type 39 Growth in Mouse Cells". Journal of Virology. 79 (9): 5363–5373. doi:10.1128/JVI.79.9.5363-5373.2005. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  20. ^ Harris, J. R.; V. R. Racaniello (2003-04-15). "Changes in Rhinovirus Protein 2C Allow Efficient Replication in Mouse Cells". Journal of Virology. 77 (8): 4773–4780. doi:10.1128/JVI.77.8.4773-4780.2003. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  21. ^ Drahos, J.; V. R. Racaniello (2009-11-15). "Cleavage of IPS-1 in Cells Infected with Human Rhinovirus". Journal of Virology. 83 (22): 11581–11587. doi:10.1128/JVI.01490-09. ISSN 0022-538X. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  22. ^ Hughes, Scott A.; Harshwardhan M. Thaker; Vincent R. Racaniello (2003-12-23). "Transgenic Mouse Model for Echovirus Myocarditis and Paralysis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 100 (26): 15906–15911. doi:10.1073/pnas.2535934100. JSTOR 3149104. 
  23. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Research Interests of the Racaniello Lab". Columbia University. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Zika Diaries". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  25. ^ "BioCrowd". BioCrowd. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Virology blog about viruses and viral disease". Vincent Racaniello. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "TWIV this week in virology". Vincent Racaniello. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  28. ^ "This Week in Parasitism". Microbe World. American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Dr. Dickson Despommier". Columbia University. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  30. ^ "This Week in Microbiology". Microbe World. American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  31. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Influenza 101". Vincent Racaniello. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Virology 101". Vincent Racaniello. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "Virology – Biology W3310/4310". V. Racaniello. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  34. ^ Patents
    • Almond, Jeffrey W.; Michael a Skinner; Vincent Racaniello; Philip D. Minor (1994-02-15), Attenuated polioviruses, retrieved 2014-08-24 
    • Almond, Jeffrey William; Road London; Michael Anthony Skinner; Hills Road Biology; Vincent Racaniello; Surgeons of Columbia University 701; Philip David Minor; Blanche Lane South Mimms Control (1993-08-15), Attenuierte Viren., retrieved 2014-08-24 
    • Jeffrey, William Almond; a Skinner Michael; Racaniello Vincent; David Minor Philip (1989-09-27), Attenuated Viruses, retrieved 2014-08-24 

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