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Dr. Tsai, Kevin

Assistant Research Fellow
  • 02-2789-9163 (Lab)
  • 02-2652-3934 (Office)


Epitranscriptomic RNA modifications

Virus-host interactions

Education and Positions:
  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
    Post Doctoral, Duke University Medical Center, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Genome sequence maps have guided and vastly expanded our understanding of virus-host interactions. However, the outcome of viral infections is subject to additional levels of regulation not directly encoded in the viral genome sequence per se. One example is epitranscriptomic RNA modifications, such as N6-methyladenosine (m6A), where covalent modifications added to individual nucleotides on RNA can regulate it's metabolism and function, mostly through the recruitment or dismissal of functional RNA binding proteins. We believe that viruses have evolved to enrich for RNA modifications that are beneficial to viral replication. Indeed, the RNA base methylation, m6A, can enhance the replication of diverse viruses including Human Immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1), Influenza A virus (IAV), Adenovirus and many more. These observations have been further expanded to modifications on cytidine: where 5-methylcytidine (m5C) and N4-acetylcytidine (ac4C) can enhance, respectively, the translation and stability of HIV-1 transcripts. Modifications, including m6A and pseudouridine, can also prevent modified RNA from activating innate immune responses, as demonstrated on the recent mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Thus, RNA modifications clearly impact viral infections. However, it remains unclear how modifications such as m5C and ac4C impact viruses other than HIV-1; while the mechanisms of modification-dependent regulation of RNA stability and immune evasion remains largely unclear. The Tsai lab aims to elucidate these unexplored areas of viral RNA modifications, and how they impact virus-host interactions, focusing on Influenza A virus, HIV-1, and Hepatitis B virus as our model systems of interest.

Our Team
Team photo

Journal 22 Book 1

  1. Pei-Yi (Alma) Su, Chih-Hsu Chang, Shin-Chwen Bruce Yen, Hsiu-Yi Wu, Wan-Ju Tung, Yu-Pei Hu Yen-Yu Ian Chen, Miao-Hsia Lin, Chiaho Shih, Pei-Jer Chen, (Kevin Tsai*) Epitranscriptomic cytidine methylation of the hepatitis B viral RNA is essential for viral reverse transcription and particle production PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 121 (24), e2400378121 (2024-06-03) [JCR] [WOS]
  2. (Tsai Kevin), Bogerd Hal P., Kennedy Edward M., Emery Ann, Swanstrom Ronald, Cullen Bryan R. Epitranscriptomic addition of m6A regulates HIV-1 RNA stability and alternative splicing GENES & DEVELOPMENT 35(13-14), 992-1004 (2021) [JCR] [WOS]
  3. Martinez Campos C, Tsai K, Courtney DG, Bogerd HP, Holley CL, Cullen BR Mapping of pseudouridine residues on viral and cellular transcripts using a novel antibody-based technique. RNA (New York, N.Y.) rna.078940.121, 121-121 (2021) [JCR] [WOS]
  4. Cullen Bryan R., (Tsai Kevin) Mapping RNA Modifications Using Photo-Crosslinking-Assisted Modification Sequencing Methods in Molecular Biology 123-134 (2021) [JCR] [WOS]
  5. (Tsai Kevin), Jaguva Vasudevan Ananda Ayyappan, Martinez Campos Cecilia, Emery Ann, Swanstrom Ronald, Cullen Bryan R. Acetylation of Cytidine Residues Boosts HIV-1 Gene Expression by Increasing Viral RNA Stability Cell Host & Microbe 28(2), 306-312.e6 (2020) [JCR] [WOS]
  6. (Tsai Kevin), Cullen Bryan R. Epigenetic and epitranscriptomic regulation of viral replication Nature Reviews Microbiology 18(10), 559-570 (2020) [JCR] [WOS]
  7. Irwan Ishak D., Karnowski Heather L., Bogerd Hal P., (Tsai Kevin), Cullen Bryan R. Reversal of Epigenetic Silencing Allows Robust HIV-1 Replication in the Absence of Integrase Function mBio 11(3), e01038-20 (2020) [JCR] [WOS]
  8. Courtney David G., (Tsai Kevin), Bogerd Hal P., Kennedy Edward M., Law Brittany A., Emery Ann, Swanstrom Ronald, Holley Christopher L., Cullen Bryan R. Epitranscriptomic Addition of m5C to HIV-1 Transcripts Regulates Viral Gene Expression Cell Host & Microbe 26(2), 217-227.e6 (2019) [JCR] [WOS]
  9. (Tsai Kevin), Courtney David G., Cullen Bryan R. Addition of m6A to SV40 late mRNAs enhances viral structural gene expression and replication PLOS Pathogens 14(2), e1006919 (2018) [JCR] [WOS]
  10. (Tsai K), Courtney DG, Kennedy EM, Cullen BR Influenza A virus-derived siRNAs increase in the absence of NS1 yet fail to inhibit virus replication. RNA (New York, N.Y.) 24(9), 1172-1182 (2018) [JCR] [WOS]

Su, Alma
Su, Alma
Chang, Chih-Hsu (Kyle)
Chang, Chih-Hsu (Kyle)
Wu, Hsiu-yi
Wu, Hsiu-yi
Tung, Wan-Ju
Tung, Wan-Ju
Yen, Bruce
Yen, Bruce
Wungmaiwo, Ramreishang
Wungmaiwo, Ramreishang