We have two projects in my lab. The first project is focused on identifying evolutionarily conserved RNA secondary structures in the coronavirus RNA genome and functionally examining their role in viral replication through reverse genetic and biochemical approaches. We have previously done this for a number of RNA secondary structures contained within the 5? and 3? regions of the genome and shown that they function as cis-acting elements in replication. Studies in my laboratory have identified a structurally dynamic region of the 5'UTR that interacts with the 3'UTR to facilitate transcription.

A second project in my laboratory has been to develop a reverse genetic system for MHV-1. In collaboration with investigators in Toronto and Pennsylvania my laboratory has demonstrated that MHV-1 infection of susceptible mice provides a safe and convenient rodent model for severe coronavirus infections such as SARS and MERS. The development of a reverse genetic system will allow us to investigate the contributions of individual viral genes to the pathogenesis of the severe pulmonary disease caused by this virus.

selected publications
Academic Articles139
  • Weiss, S. R., & Leibowitz, J. L. (2011). Chapter 4 - Coronavirus Pathogenesis. ADVANCES IN VIRUS RESEARCH, VOL 103. Maramorosch, K., Shatkin, A. J., & Murphy, F. A. (Eds.), Advances in Virus Research. (pp. 85-164). Academic Press.
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  • Liu, P., & Leibowitz, J. (2010). RNA Higher-Order Structures Within the Coronavirus 5′ and 3′ Untranslated Regions and Their Roles in Viral Replication. Lal, S. K. (Eds.), Molecular Biology of the SARS-Coronavirus. (pp. 47-61). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
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  • Weiss, S. R., & Leibowitz, J. L. (2007). Pathogenesis of Murine Coronavirus Infection. Nidoviruses. (pp. 259-278). ASM Press.
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  • Liu, P., Millership, J. J., Li, L., Giedroc, D. P., & Leibowitz, J. L. (2006). A previously unrecognized UNR stem-loop structure in the coronavirus 5' untranslated region plays a functional role in replication.. MATHEMATICAL MODELLING IN EXPERIMENTAL NUTRITION. (pp. 25-30).
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  • Weiss, S. R., Hughes, S. A., Bonilla, P. J., Turner, J. D., Leibowitz, J. L., & Denison, M. R. (1994). Coronavirus polyprotein processing. Arch Virol Suppl. Positive-Strand RNA Viruses. (pp. 349-358).
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Conference Papers8
chaired theses and dissertations
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mailing address
Texas A&M Health Science Center; Microbial Pathogenesis And Immunology; 1114 TAMUS
College Station, TX 77843-1114