Xiao-Wen Cheng

Xiao-Wen Cheng

Associate Professor of Micro­biology

56 Pearson Hall
(513) 529-5429


Ph.D., Clemson University, 1998

Research Interests:

GFP incorporated in the polydera in the infected cellAll viruses have host-ranges. Some viruses can infect many cell types while others can only infect one or a few cell types. We use baculovirus as a model to elucidate host-range factors of viruses, specifically on cellular secretion upon viral infection.

Baculovirus are insect specific viruses that have potential for biological control of insect pests in agriculture. Most baculoviruses, however, have a very narrow host-range, killing one or two host insects. This is one of the major drawbacks of baculoviruses as pesticides, making them difficult to compete with broad spectrum chemicals. Host-range factor studies of baculovirus will allow us engineer baculoviruses with a particular host-range for insect control in agriculture. Development of baculoviruses with specific host-ranges will offer ecological benefits by reducing chemical insecticide dependence with application of beneficial viruses in agriculture and forestry.

It is unknown why some viruses have a wide host-range whereas others have a very narrow host-range. In baculoviruses, the Autographa californica M NPV (AcMNPV) has a wide host-range (>33 species) and can replicate well in many cell lines. Narrow host-range NPVs, such as Spodoptera exigua M NPV (SeMNPV) and Thysanoplusia orichalcea M NPV (ThorMNPV), can kill only one or a few hosts and replicate well in a few cell lines. ThorMNPV replicates poorly in a cell line Sf21 but AcMNPV replicate in Sf21 very well. We engineered narrow host-range ThorMNPV (vThGFP) and SeMNPV (vSeGFP) with the insertion of green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene for expression as well as AcMNPV (vAcRed) with red fluorescent protein (RFP) for expression in cell. When we co-infected Sf21 cells with vAcRed and vThGFP, vAcGFP helped vThGFP replication by about 100-fold. SeMNPV is poor in infecting Hi5 cells from Trichoplusia ni. Co-infection of Hi5 cells with vAcRed and vSeGFP showed that vAcRed substantially helped vSeGFP replication in Hi5 cells. Centrifuged media from Sf21 and Hi5 cells infected by vAcRed also helped vThGFP and vSeGFP replication in Sf21 and Hi5 cells, respectively. We hypothesized that wide host-range AcMNPV infection in cells can stimulate cells to secrete a factor(s) that can help other narrow host-range viruses to replicate in otherwise nonpermissive cells. We try to search for the factors by using different techniques such as two dimensional gel electrophoresis, a dual fluorescence reporter tag system and recombinant DNA.

In addition to baculovirus, we also study ascovirus. Ascoviruses are also insect specific viruses with different host-ranges among different ascovirus species. Ascovirus looks similar to baculovirus in morphology but they are always found in the cytoplasm of infected cells whereas baculovirus is always found in the nucleus. We are interested in understanding which genes of ascovirus are transcribed by the host cell and which are transcribed by the viral encoded RNA polymerase. We are also interested in understanding if late genes are terminated by stem-loop structure formation, as in bacteria

Selected Publications:

  • Salem TZ, Seaborn CP, Turney CM, Xue JL, Shang H and Cheng XW. The influence of SV40 polyA on gene expression of baculovirus expression vector systems PLoS One 10(12):e0145019
  • Li SL, Huang JP, Chang YY, Quan SY, Yi WT, Chen ZS, Liu SQ, Cheng XW, Huang GH (2015) Development of Microplitis similis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) on two candidate host species, Spodoptera litura and Spodoptera exigua (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Florida Entomologist 98(2): 736-741
  • Huang J, Hao B, Cheng C, Liang F, Shen X, Cheng XW. (2014) Entry of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus into BmN cells by cholesterol-dependent macropinocytic endocytosis. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 453(1):166-171
  • Wei YL, Hu J, Li SJ, Chen ZS, Cheng XW, Huang GH. (2014). Genome sequence and organization analysis of Heliothis virescens ascovirus 3f isolated from a Helicoverpa zea larva. J Invertebr Pathol. 122:40-43
  • Colson P, De Lamballerie X, Yutin N, Asgari S, Bigot Y, Bideshi DK, Cheng XW, Federici BA, Van Etten JL, Koonin EV, La Scola B, Raoult D. (2013) "Megavirales", a proposed new order for eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses. Arch Virol. 158(12):2517-2521.
  • Ream DC, Murakami ST, Schmidt EE, Huang GH, Liang C, Friedberg I, Cheng XW. (2013) Comparative analysis of error-prone replication mononucleotide repeats across baculovirus genomes. Virus Res. 26;178(2):217-225
  • Cheng XH, Hillman CC, Zhang CX, Cheng XW. (2013) Reduction of polyhedrin mRNA and protein expression levels in Sf9 and Hi5 cell lines, but not in Sf21 cells, infected with Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus fp25k mutants. J Gen Virol. 94(Pt 1):166-76.
  • Cheng XH, Kumar CM, Arif BM, Krell PJ, Zhang CX, Cheng XW. (2013) Cell-dependent production of polyhedra and virion occlusion of Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus fp25k mutants in vitro and in vivo. J Gen Virol. 94(Pt 1):177-86.
  • Salem TZ, Cheng, XH and Cheng XW. (2012) AcMNPV enhances infection by ThorNPV in Sf21 cells and SeMNPV in Hi5 cells. Archives of Virology 157: 1875-1885
  • Huang GH, Garretson TA, Cheng XH, Holztrager MS, Li SJ, Wang X, Cheng XW. (2012) Phylogenetic position and replication kinetics of Heliothis virescens ascovirus 3h (HvAV-3h) isolated from Spodoptera exigua. PLoS One 7(7) e40225.
  • Huang GH, Wang YS, Wang X, Garretson TA, Dai LY, Zhang CX, Cheng XW. (2012) Genomic sequence of Heliothis virescens ascovirus 3g isolated from Spodoptera exigua. Journal of Virology 86(22): 12467-12468
  • Wang YS, Huang GH, Cheng XH, Wang X, Garretson TA, Dai LY, Zhang C X, Cheng XW. (2012) Genome of Thysanoplusia orichalcea multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus lacks the superoxide dismutase gene. Journal of Virology 86(21):11948-9
  • Fan HW, Zhang XC, Xu YP, Cheng XW, Zhang CX. (2012) Genome of a Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus strain isolated from India. Journal of Virology 86(21):11941
  • Xue JL and Cheng XW. (2011) Comparative analysis of a highly variable region within the genomes of Spodoptera frugiperda ascovirus 1d (SfAV-1d) and SfAV-1a. Journal of General Virology 92:2797 - 2802
  • Xue JL and Cheng XW. (2010). Using Host 28S Ribosomal RNA as a Housekeeping Gene for Quantitative Real-Time Reverse Transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) in Virus-Infected Animal Cells. Current Protocols in Microbiology. 1D.2.1-1D.2.13. John Wiley & Son, NJ, USA.