Discovery and Characterization of Wu Polyomavirus, A Novel Virus Detected in Pediatric Respiratory Tract Infections

Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2010

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Biology & Biomedical Sciences (Molecular Microbiology & Microbial Pathogenesis)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Respiratory tract infections are responsible for greater than 4 million deaths per year, making them the leading cause of mortality due to an infectious disease. Despite the availability of improved diagnostic methods a known pathogen cannot be identified in up to 30% of respiratory infections. This dissertation is a direct result of our laboratory’s hypothesis that a fraction of these respiratory cases of unknown cause are the result of as yet-to-be identified viral agents.

As part of our laboratory’s efforts to identify unknown viral agents I have focused on analyzing samples from patients with respiratory illnesses of unknown etiology. A high throughput sequencing method was utilized in the identification of WU Polyomavirus (WUV), a novel polyomavirus detected in the respiratory tract of a child with pneumonia of unknown etiology. I subsequently sequenced the entire virus genome of 5229bp and found it to have genomic features characteristic of the family Polyomaviridae. Phylogenetic analysis clearly revealed that WUV was divergent from all known polyomaviruses. Following this discovery, I hypothesized that WUV is likely a human pathogen. The goal of my dissertation work was to systematically address questions that would provide insight about the biology of WUV and shed light on the role of WUV in human disease.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

David Wang

Committee Members

Gregory A. Storch, Herbert "Skip" Virgin IV, Joseph P. Vogel, Jason D. Weber, Dong Yu


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K71C1TTD

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