Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Blair Szymczyna

Second Advisor

David Huffman

Third Advisor

Karim Essani


In the past, poxviruses have ravaged humanity with diseases such as smallpox, but today, certain poxviruses appear to be promising vectors for fighting cancer. Studies of poxviruses today can provide structural and mechanistic information about viral proteins and their role in the viral replication cycle, which can contribute to vaccine and antiviral development, the creation of modified poxviruses for use in viral therapy, and the identification of potential molecular tools for biotechnology applications. The tanapoxvirus proteome was analyzed using various bioinformatics programs that use protein and nucleotide sequences to predict various parameters, including structure, function and homology. Data catalogued in this process revealed that several proteins of previously unknown function can now be assigned a predicted function. Uncharacterized proteins predicted to interact with nucleic acids were subjected to additional bioinformatic and structural biology studies. Four helicase proteins were identified, and it was revealed that they belong to the DEAD-box helicase family. Due to high levels of conservation among poxviruses, these proteins are expected to have critical functions for viral replication. Within each of these proteins, regions flanking the helicase core were noted to be uncharacterized regions that are likely important to the proteins function. Residues 1-75 of the tanapoxvirus DEAD-box helicase 110R were expressed and prepared for characterization using NMR.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted