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K. Andrew White

K. Andrew White

Picture of K. Andrew White
K. Andrew White
Full Professor



Eligible to Supervise

Biology Graduate Program


Office Location Farquharson Building, B304
Phone Number (416)736-2100 x 40890

Research Focus

The focus of the research in our laboratory is to understand, at a molecular level, fundamental processes that are utilized by RNA viruses during their infection of host cells. To study these processes we use a messenger- or positive-sensed single-stranded (ss) RNA virus, Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV), as our model pathogen. This plant virus is fundamentally similar to many animal-infecting positive-sensed RNA viruses (e.g. Poliovirus, Hepatitis C virus etc.), however TBSV offers several advantages: it has a small and simple genome; studies can be performed in convenient and relatively inexpensive experimental systems; ethical concerns related to the use of animals can be avoided and; the virus is not infectious to humans or other animals.

The 4.8 kb long ssRNA genome of TBSV is directly involved in several key viral processes that are of interest to us. These include: (i) 5′ cap- & poly(A) tail-independent translation of viral proteins; (ii) replication of the viral RNA genome; and (iii) transcription of viral subgenomic (sg) mRNAs. RNA sequences and structures within the ssRNA TBSV genome are involved in each of these processes. Our research aims to: (a) determine the structure-function relationship of important RNA elements within the genome; (b) identify and characterize viral and host proteins that interact with these RNA elements and: (c) determine the molecular mechanisms by which these RNA elements and protein factors mediate the different processes. This research on the fundamental steps in the reproductive cycle of this virus will provide a better understanding of the events leading to the initiation and successful establishment of viral infections in host cells. In turn, this information will be useful for the development of effective anti-viral strategies.


Virology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Transcription, Translation, and RNA structure/function

Research Areas

Cell and Molecular Biology