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Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D.


Chief, Viral Pathogenesis Section

Laboratory of Immunoregulation

Major Areas of Research

  • Viral receptors and coreceptors
  • Structure-function relationships in the HIV-1 envelope
  • Molecular basis of HIV-1 immune evasion
  • Novel approaches to the development of HIV-1 vaccines
  • Role of chemokines and other endogenous factors in HIV-1 disease

Program Description

Despite the extraordinary advances made over the past 30 years in HIV research, the AIDS pandemic remains one of the greatest scientific challenges in the world. The main focus of the Viral Pathogenesis Section (VPS) is to study the pathogenesis of HIV-1/AIDS and to use this knowledge to devise innovative strategies of therapy and vaccine. A primary interest of the VPS is the elucidation of the structure-function relationships within the HIV-1 envelope, with the aim of identifying 1) conserved functional regions involved in both inter- and intra-molecular interactions; 2) molecular mechanisms of immune evasion, which protect conserved neutralization epitopes from antibody recognition; 3) novel molecular targets for broadly neutralizing antibodies, which may be used for the rational engineering of effective vaccine immunogens.

Other research topics include the characterization of two novel HIV-suppressive chemokines recently identified in the VPS, CXCL4 and XCL1, with the aim of elucidating the molecular mechanism(s) of their antiviral action and their potential role as endogenous protective factors in the course of HIV-1 infection, and the study of the dichotomous effects of interleukin-7 (IL-7), the main T-cell homeostatic cytokine, in the course of HIV-1 infection using a comprehensive approach combining classic immunology and virology with state-of-the-art post-genomic technologies and in vivo studies in nonhuman primate models.


Dr. Lusso received his M.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Turin and his Ph.D. from the Ministry of Scientific and Technologic Research, Rome, Italy. He is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and in infectious diseases. He came to NIH for the first time in 1986 to work in the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology under Dr. Robert C. Gallo at the National Cancer Institute. He returned to Italy in 1994, where he created the Laboratory of Human Virology at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and became associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cagliari. In 2006, he again joined NIH, where he became chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Section in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He is an executive editor of Current HIV Research and a member of the editorial board of several other journals. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Research Group

Christina Guzzo, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Qingobo Liu, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Peng Zhang, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Ivy Co, B.Sc., Post-baccalaureate
Thomas R. Gallant, B.Sc., Post-baccalaureate
David Ichikawa, B.Sc., Post-baccalaureate
Yin Lin, Ph.D., Biologist
Huiyi Miao, M.S., Biologist

Selected Publications

Cimbro R, Gallant TR, Dolan MA, Guzzo C, Zhang P, Lin Y, Miao H, Van Ryk D, Arthos J, Gorshkova I, Brown PH, Hurt DE, Lusso P. Tyrosine sulfation in the second variable loop (V2) of HIV-1 gp120 stabilizes V2-V3 interaction and modulates neutralization sensitivity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 25;111(8):3152-7.

Guzzo C, Fox J, Lin Y, Miao H, Cimbro R, Volkman BF, Fauci AS, Lusso P. The CD8-derived chemokine XCL1/lymphotactin is a conformation-dependent, broad-spectrum inhibitor of HIV-1. PLoS Pathog. 2013 Dec;9(12):e1003852.

Cimbro R, Vassena L, Arthos J, Cicala C, Kehrl JH, Park C, Sereti I, Lederman MM, Fauci AS, Lusso P. IL-7 induces expression and activation of integrin α4β7 promoting naive T-cell homing to the intestinal mucosa. Blood. 2012 Sep 27;120(13):2610-9.

Auerbach DJ, Lin Y, Miao H, Cimbro R, DiFiore MJ, Gianolini ME, Furci L, Biswas P, Fauci AS, Lusso P. Identification of the platelet-derived chemokine CXCL4/PF-4 as a broad-spectrum HIV-1 inhibitor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Vassena L, Miao H, Cimbro R, Malnati MS, Cassina G, Proschan MA, Hirsch VM, Lafont BA, Morre M, Fauci AS, Lusso P. Treatment with IL-7 prevents the decline of circulating CD4+ T cells during the acute phase of SIV infection in rhesus macaques. PLoS Pathog. 2012 Apr;8(4):e1002636.

Cocchi F, DeVico AL, Garzino-Demo A, Arya SK, Gallo RC, Lusso P. Identification of RANTES, MIP-1 alpha, and MIP-1 beta as the major HIV-suppressive factors produced by CD8+ T cells. Science. 1995 Dec 15;270(5243):1811-5.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

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Last Updated September 25, 2012

Last Reviewed September 25, 2012