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Dr. Akhil C. Banerjea

Research Interest:

Molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 epidemic in India and genetic and functional characterization of HIV-1 genes circulating in North India. Mechanisms of HIV-1 and host genes interactions (microRNAS or host restriction factors) and their implications in HIV-1 mediated pathogenesis.

Summary of Research:

Humans and pathogens (viruses/bacteria) have co-evolved during evolution. The pathogens are known to modulate host cell machinery in a manner that ensures their existence. Host cells on the other hand, mount an antiviral or antibacterial response in the form of devising host restriction factors. Indeed, in case of HIV-1, a number of host restriction factors (Tetherin, APOBEC etc) have been identified. Viruses, however, have devised many mechanisms to overcome these restriction factors and HIV-1 accessory proteins are particularly adept at doing so. HIV-1 is known to modulate levels of key cellular regulators (p53 or components of innate immunity) of homeostasis with significant implications for replication fitness and pathogenesis.

HIV-1 accessory and regulatory genes (Tat, Rev, Nef, Vpu, Vpr) are multifunctional that govern pathogenesis by modulating p53, via set of miRNAs, exploiting cellular ubiquitination machinery or by their ability to suppress siRNA mediated functions or by multiple other mechanisms, notably being B-TrcP mediated functions of Vpu. The functional relevance of such perturbations is key to understanding HIV-1 pathogenesis. The various genetic subtypes, the extent of genetic variants and their functional  implications among North-Indian individuals infected with HIV-1  genes or the characterization of  host genes that are known to be associated with progression of the disease or the lack of it, are of fundamental importance for gaining insights into HIV-1 pathogenesis and devising novel ways (small molecules, siRNAs, miRNAs etc) to interfere with its replication and progression. Mechanisms responsible for apoptosis, ubiquitination and autophagy  and their cross-talk seem to play an important role in HIV pathogenesis and needs to be studied in detail to gain insight about a remarkably successful virus like HIV.

• Fellow National Academy of Science
• Fellow Indian National Science Academy
• Shakuntala Amir Chand Prize, National Award of ICMR, Govt. of India (1982)
• National Overseas Fellowship Award, Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India (1999)
• National Bioscience Award for Career Development, Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India (2001-2002).
• International Recognition by Thomson Reuters as distinguished expert in Virology in the year 2011.
• SR Scientist Oration Award of Indian Immunology Society (2012)
• Ranbaxy Research Award ( 2014)
• National Award of Indian National Science Academy (INSA)- Dr Yellapragada SubbaRow memorial Lecture (2017)

  • Rameez Raja, Larence Ronsard, Sneh lata, Shubendu Trivedi and Banerjea AC (2017). HIV-1 Tat potently stabilizes Mdm2 and enhances viral replication. Biochemical J (May 03, 2017, BCJ20160825; DOI 10.1042/BCJ20160825).
  • Ronsard L, Ganguli N, Singh VK, Mohankumar K, Rai T, Sridharan S, Pajaniradje S, Kumar B, Rai D, Chaudhuri S, kumar C, Coumar MS, Ramachandran VG and Banerjea AC (2017). Impact of genetic variations in HIV-1 Tat on LTR-mediated transcription via TAR RNA interaction. Front. Microbiol. 8:706. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00706 
  • Kumar B, Arora S, Ahmed S, Banerjea AC. (2017). Hyperactivation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 by HIV-1 is necessary for virion production and latent viral reactivation. FASEB J. 31, 180 -191, 2017.
  • Ali A, Raja R, Farooqui SR, Ahmad S, Banerjea (2017). USP7 deubiquitinase controls HIV-1 production by stabilizing Tat protein.  Biochem J. 2017 Mar 9. pii: BCJ20160304. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20160304. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ali A & Banerjea AC. (2016). Curcumin inhibits HIV-1 by promoting Tat protein degradation. Scientific Reports. 6, 27539; doi:10.1038/srep27539. (Accepted 9th May, 2016: Published 10 June 2016.
  • Richa Kapoor, Sakshi Arora, Sanket S Ponia, Binod Kumar, Subbareddy Maddikas & Akhil C Banerjea. (2015). MicroRNA34a enhances HIV-1 replication by targeting PNUTS/PPPR10 which negatively regulates HIV-1 transcriptional complex formation. Biochemical J, in press- accepted 16th July, 2015, DOI 10.1042/BJ20150700.
  • Sneh Lata, Amjad Ali, Vikas Sood, Rameez Raza, Akhil C Banerjea. (2015). HIV Rev downregulates Tat expression and viral replication via modulation of NAD(P)H:Quinine oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1)". Nature Communications- DOI 10.1038/ncomms8244 published 10th June 2015). Selected by Faculty 1000 as prime.
  • Arora s, Verma S & Banerjea AC. (2014). HIV-1 Vpr redirects host ubiquitination pathway. J. Virol. 2014 Aug 15;88(16):9141-9152.
  • Ponia SK, Arora S, Kumar B & Akhil C Banerjea (2013). Arginine rich short linear motif of HIV-1 regulatory proteins inhibits dicer dependent RNA interference. Retrovirology 2013 Sep 11;10(1):97.
  • Verma S, Ali A, Arora A, Banerjea AC. (2011) Inhibition of B-TrcP dependent ubiquitination of p53 by HIV-1 Vpu promotes p53 mediated apoptosis in human T cells. Blood 117: 6600- 6607.
  • Karjee S, Minhas A, Sood V, Ponia SS, Banerjea AC, Chow TKV, Mukherjee SK, Lal SK (2010) The 7a accessory protein of SARS-CoV acts as a RNA silencing suppressor. J Virol 84: 10395 – 10401.
  • Aalia S Bano, Vikas Sood, Ujjwal Neogi, Nidhi Goel, Vijesh S Kuttiat, Ajay Wanchu, and Banerjea A.C. (2009) Genetic and Functional Characterization of HIV-1 VprC Variants from North India: Presence of Unique Recombinants with Mosaic Genomes from B, C and D Subtypes within the ORF of Vpr. J General Virol 90: 2768-2776.
  • Sood, V., Ranjan, R., Banerjea, AC. (2008) Functional analysis of HIV-1 subtypes B and C HIV-1 Tat Exons and RGD/QGD motifs with respect to Tat mediated transactivation and apoptosis. AIDS 22: 1683-1685.
  • Banao, AS., Gupta, N., Sood, V., and Banerjea, AC. (2007) Vpr from HIV-1 subtype B and C exhibit significant differences in their ability to transactivate LTR-mediated gene expression and also in their ability to promote apoptotic DNA ladder formation. AIDS 21: 1832-1834.
  • Banerjea A, Li M, Bauer G, Remling L, Lee NS, Rossi J and Akkina R. (2003) Inhibition of HIV-1 by lentiviral vector-transduced siRNAs in T lymphocytes differentiated in SCID-humice and CD34+ progenitor cell-derived macrophages. Molecular Therapy 8: 62-71.
  • Chakraborti, S and Banerjea, A.C. (2003) Inhibition of HIV-1 replication by 10-23 catalytic motif containing DNA-enzymes targeted against HIV-1 TAR element: Potential effectiveness against all HIV-1 isolates. Molecular Therapy 7: 817-826.
  • Sriram,B and Banerjea, A. C. (2000) In vitro selected RNA cleaving-DNA-enzymes from combinatorial library are potent inhibitors of HIV-1 gene expression. Biochemical J 352: 667-673.
  • Shahi, S., Shanmugasundaram, G. K., Banerjea, A. C. (2001) Ribozymes that cleave reovirus genome segment S1 also protects cells from pathogenesis caused by reovirus infection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 98: 4101-4106.