Associate Professor of Biology
Robert and Debra Lee Faculty Fellowship
B.S. Florida State University (2000)
Ph.D. Vanderbilt University (2005)
Postdoctoral Research, National Institutes of Health (2011)
Wake Downtown 2817
Areas of Interest
Rotavirus Replication and Evolution
Our research efforts focus on rotaviruses, which are segmented, double-stranded (ds) RNA viruses that cause diarrhea in young children and animals. During infection of a host cell, rotaviruses replicate their dsRNA genome in tandem with the early stages of virion particle assembly. We seek to better understand this replicase-assembly mechanism of rotavirus through (i) structure-guided, functional analyses of viral proteins and assembly intermediates as well as (ii) genetic analyses of wildtype and mutant rotavirus strains. We also have projects that aim to uncover rotavirus genetic diversity in nature and to elucidate selection pressures that temper viral evolution.
Nichols SM, Nilsson EM, Brown-Harding H, LaConte LEW, Acker J, Borodavka A, and Esstman SM. (2023). Flexibility of the Rotavirus NSP2 C-terminal Region Supports Factory Formation via Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation. Journal of Virology, (in press).
Anderson ML, McDonald Esstman, SM (2022). In vitro particle-associated uridyltransferase activity of the rotavirus polymerase. Virology, 577:24-31.
DiCecco L, Berry S, Jonaid GM, Solares MJ, Kaylor L, Gray JL, Bator C, Dearnaley WL, Spilman M, Dressel-Dukes MJ, Grandfield K, McDonald Esstman SM, Kelly DF. (2022). Advancing High-Resolution Imaging of Virus Assemblies in Liquid and Ice. Journal of Experimental Visualization, Jul 20;(185).
Nilsson EM, Sullivan OM, Brown ML, Argobright H, Shue T, McDonald Esstman SM (2021). Reverse genetic engineering of simian rotaviruses with temperature-sensitive lesions in VP1, VP2, and VP6. Virus Research, 302:198488.
Steger CL, Brown ML, Sullivan OM, Boudreaux CE, Cohen CA, LaConte LE, McDonald SM (2019). In vitro dsRNA synthesis by rotavirus polymerase mutants with lesions at core shell contact sites. Journal of Virology, e01049-19.
Hauser M, Dearnaley WJ, Varano AC, Casasanta M, McDonald SM, Kelly DF (2019). Cryo-EM reveals architectural diversity in active rotavirus particles. Computational Structural Biotechnology Journal, 17:1178-1183.
Steger, CL, Boudreaux CE, LaConte LE, Pease JB, McDonald SM (2019). Group A rotavirus VP1 polymerase and VP2 core shell proteins: intergenotypic sequence variation and in vitro functional compatibility. Journal of Virology, e01642-18.
Mingo R, Zhang S, Long CP, LaConte LE, McDonald SM (2017). Genetic determinants restricting the reassortment of heterologous NSP2 genes into the simian rotavirus SA11 genome. Scientific Reports, 7:9301.
McKell, AO, LaConte LE, McDonald SM (2017). A temperature-sensitive lesion in the N-terminal domain of the rotavirus polymerase affects its intracellular localization and activity. Journal of Virology, e00062-17.
McDonald SM, Nelson MI, Turner PE, and Patton JT (2016). Reassortment in segmented RNA viruses: mechanisms and outcomes. Nature Reviews in Microbiology, 14:448-60
Boudreaux CE, Kelly DF, McDonald SM (2015). Electron microscopic analysis of rotavirus assembly-replication intermediates. Virology, 477C:32-41.
Zhang S, McDonald PW, Thompson T, Dennis AF, Akopov A, Kirkness EF, Patton JT, McDonald SM (2014). Rotaviruses from a single location over an 18-year timespan suggests protein co-adaption influences gene constellations. Journal of Virology, 17:9842-9863.