Robert Anthony Bambara, Ph.D.

Robert Anthony Bambara, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 672
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 275-2764
Fax: (585) 275-6007

Research Bio

AIDS Research: HIV-1 Acquired a Cellular Gene to Promote Viral Replication. Examining a critical step in viral replication called minus strand transfer, we found that it involves circularization of the viral RNA. Using high speed computing and computational biology methods, we discovered that the sequences involved in the circularization included a small gene, apparently acquired by the virus thousands of years ago from the genome of an infected host. The gene has been retained in recognizable forms, because it is a rare example of a host gene that has been hijacked by a virus to support viral replication. The gene sequence suggests that HIV evolved first in African cats, before being transferred to monkeys and humans. Moreover, the presence of the gene in only some monkey viruses, suggests that it could make the difference between viruses causing virulent rather than latent infections. Future work involves molecular paleontology of the gene and examination of its role in promoting virus growth.

Carcinogenesis: Mechanisms of DNA Repair and Replication. Human cells defend against aging and cancer by accurate replication of DNA and efficient DNA repair. We recently discovered that human cells have developed a unique mechanism to protect the information in genes that express proteins in active chromatin. The same acetyl-transferase that makes regions of chromatin more accessible for transcription alters the functions of specific replication and repair proteins. These proteins become extra-efficient at removing lesions in the DNA, and preventing replication errors, but only in active genes. These results indicate that the cells can regulate the effectiveness with which they protect DNA from aging. This finding offers a unique opportunity to influence that regulation to delay the onset of cancers by up-regulating the efficiency with which we protect our DNA. Future work will involve investigating the mechanisms of the regulation in cells, biochemical assays, and in reconstituted chromatin.

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 252 available »

2016 Jun 2
Piekna-Przybylska D, Bambara RA, Balakrishnan L. "Acetylation regulates DNA repair mechanisms in human cells." Cell cycle. 2016 Jun 2; 15(11):1506-17. Epub 2016 Apr 22.
2014 Jun 13
Amie SM, Daly MB, Noble E, Schinazi RF, Bambara RA, Kim B. "Anti-HIV host factor SAMHD1 regulates viral sensitivity to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors via modulation of cellular deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) levels." The Journal of biological chemistry. 2014 Jun 13; 289(24):16640.
2014 Jun 13
Amie SM, Bambara RA, Kim B. "GTP is the primary activator of the anti-HIV restriction factor SAMHD1." The Journal of biological chemistry. 2014 Jun 13; 289(24):16641.
2014 Apr 29
Piekna-Przybylska D, Sullivan MA, Sharma G, Bambara RA. "U3 region in the HIV-1 genome adopts a G-quadruplex structure in its RNA and DNA sequence." Biochemistry. 2014 Apr 29; 53(16):2581-93. Epub 2014 Apr 15.
2013 Oct
Wang J, Li D, Bambara RA, Dykes C. "Reverse transcriptase backbone can alter the polymerization and RNase activities of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase mutants K101E+G190S." The Journal of general virology. 2013 Oct; 94(Pt 10):2297-308. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Current Appointments

Professor Emeritus - Department of Microbiology and Immunology (SMD) - Primary
Professor Emeritus - Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (SMD)


PhD | Molecular Biology | Cornell University1974
BA | Chemistry | Northwestern University1970