Extracellular vesicles (EVs) including exosomes and microvesicles are virus-sized membranous sacs released from cells that mediate intercellular communications through the transfer of biologically active proteins, RNAs, and lipids. EVs are present in diverse biological fluids and contain molecular signatures of their progenitor cells. The discovery that EVs participate in normal biology and pathological conditions has generated tremendous importance in uncovering their functions. There is also great interest in the discovery of biomarkers in EVs for diagnostic or prognostic purposes. Despite their potential medical utility, many of the mechanisms underlying EV biogenesis and secretion remain unknown. It is clear from our work and others that viruses hijack EV pathways for virion assembly and to package specific viral and cellular cargo for dissemination. The goal of my research program is to utilize viruses to better understand EV biogenesis pathways and the functions of EVs in cell-to-cell communication. In this talk I will discuss our progress on studies that begin to shed light on the general mechanisms of EV biogenesis, protein trafficking, and intracellular signaling in context of Epstein-Barr virus infection and associated cancers.
Dr. Meckes obtained his B.S. in microbiology from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. John W. Wills. His dissertation research was focused on herpes simplex virus assembly and viral protein-protein interactions. Dr. Meckes completed his post-doctoral training in tumor virology at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Raab-Traub. During this time he was awarded an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellowship to study the molecular properties of exosomes secreted from Epstein-Barr virus infected cancer cells. He joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at FSU in 2013 as an assistant professor. Dr. Meckes teaches microbiology to first and second year medical students and directs a research laboratory studying the composition and functions of exosomes and other extracellular vesicles in cancer and other human diseases. His lab has been supported by grants from the Florida Department of Health and the NIH/NCI.