Jason W. Upton
Department of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor

Office: 350 Funchess Hall

Address: 101 Life Sciences Bldg.
Auburn University, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-1691

Fax: (334) 844-1645

Email: jwu0003@auburn.edu


Postdoctoral Fellowship - Emory Vaccine Center
NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship - Emory University School of Medicine
Ph.D. – Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.
B.S. – Willamette University, Salem, OR.

Professional Employment
Assistant Professor - University of Texas at Austin

Research and Teaching Interests

Herpesviruses are ubiquitous, opportunistic pathogens, characterized by the establishment of life-long infections in their natural hosts. As such, they have developed elegant strategies to infect, evade and persist in the face of host intrinsic, innate, and adaptive immunity. The long-term goal of our research is to identify, characterize, and interrogate the molecular mechanisms important for virus-host interactions. Much of our work focuses on the pathogenesis of betaherpeviruses, which includes the human pathogen Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV). HCMV is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised individuals and is the leading infectious cause of congenital birth defects in the United States.  Owing to the strict species specificity of betaherpesviruses, we utilize Murine Cytomegalovirus (MCMV), a powerful model system for HCMV pathogenesis, in our studies of CMV-host interactions. Our interests lie in understanding host innate immune defenses and the mechanisms by which MCMV, and a growing number of other pathogens including reovirus, influenza, and vaccinia virus, thwart these defenses. Combining techniques from genetics, molecular and cell biology, virology, and immunology, we aim to develop a better understanding of these molecular mechanisms, which in turn will allow us to exploit them to improve detection and treatment of viral diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Gopal S,  Perez Jr E, Xia AY, Knowlton JJ, Cerqueira F,  Dermody TS, Upton JW. (2018) Murine cytomegalovirus M72 promotes acute virus replication in vivo and is a substrate of the TRiC/CCT complex. Virology.522:92-105.

  2. Guo H, Gilley RP, Fisher A, Lane R, Landsteiner VJ, Ragan KB, Dovey CM, Carette JE, Upton JW, Mocarski ES, Kaiser WJ. (2018) Species-independent contribution of ZBP1/DAI/DLM-1-triggered necroptosis in host defense against HSV1. Cell Death & Disease. 9:816.

  3. Koehler H, Cotsmire S, Langland J, Kibler KV, Kalman D, Upton JW, Mocarski ES, and Jacobs BL (2017) Inhibition of DAI-dependent necroptosis by the Z-DNA binding domain of the vaccinia virus innate immune evasion protein, E3. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 114:11506-11511.

  4. Maelfait J, Liverpool L, Bridgeman A, Ragan KB, Upton JW, Rehwinkel J. (2017) Sensing of viral and endogenous RNA by ZBP1/DAI induces necroptosis.  EMBO. 36:2529-2543.

  5. Sridharan H, Ragan KB, Guo H, Gilley RP, Landsteiner VJ, Kaiser WJ, Upton JW. (2017) Murine Cytomegalovirus IE3-dependent transcription is required for DAI/ZBP1-mediated necroptosis. EMBOReports. 18:1429-1441.

  6. Ragan KB , Upton JW. (2017) Host Response: Neurons loosen the gRIP of Death. Nature Microbiology 2:17090.

  7. Upton JW, Shubina M, Balachandran S. (2017) RIPK3-driven cell death during virus infections. Immunological Reviews. 277:90-101. 

  8. Upton JW, Kaiser WJ. (2017) DAI Another Way: Necroptotic Control of Viral Infection. Cell Host & Microbe. 21:290-293.

  9. Berger AK, Hiller BE, Thete D, Snyder AJ, Perez E, Upton JW, Danthi P. (2017) Viral RNA a two stages of reovirus infection is required for the induction of necroptosis. Journal of Virology. 91: e02404-e02416.

  10. Thapa RJ, Ingram JP, Ragan KB, Nogusa S, Boyd DF, Benitez AA, Sridharan H, Kosoff R, Shubina S, Landsteiner VJ, Andrake M, Vogel P, Sigal LJ, Thomas PG, Upton JW, Balachandran S. (2016) DAI senses influenza A virus genomic RNA and activats RIPK3-dependent cell death.  Cell Host & Microbe. 20:674-681.

  11. Dick JE, Hilterbrand AT, Strawsine LM, Upton JW, Bard AJ. (2016) Enzymaticall enhanced collisions on ultramicroelectrodes for specific and rapid detection of viruses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113:6403-6408.

  12. Dick JE, Hilterbrand AT, Boika A, Upton JW, Bard AJ. (2015) Electrochemical detection of a single cytomegalovirus at an ultramicroelectrode and its antibody anchoring. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 112:5303-5308.

  13. Upton JW, Chan FK.  Staying Alive: Cell Death in Antiviral Immunity. (2014) Molecular Cell 54:273-280.

Google Scholar Page


Undergraduate Graduate
4101 - Cell Biology Lab
4970 - Advanced Virology
7970 - Advanced Virology

Last updated: 10/05/2021