Melissa Maginnis


  • Neumann College, 2001, B.S.;
  • Vanderbilt University, 2007, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Research in the Maginnis laboratory is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of viral disease. Specifically, our work seeks to define the viral and host cell factors that regulate infection and viral pathogenesis of the human JC polyomavirus (JCPyV). The majority of the population is infected with JCPyV, which establishes a lifelong, persistent infection in the kidney without symptoms. In immunocompromised hosts, such as individuals receiving immunomodulatory therapies for autoimmune diseases or those with HIV, the virus can spread from the kidney to the central nervous system and cause a lytic infection in the brain. Viral destruction of the glial cells astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, which are critical for myelin production, results in the fatal, demyelinating disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). There is currently no effective treatment for PML.

Viruses are complex, yet extremely efficient machines that hijack the host cell machinery to complete an infectious cycle and produce progeny virus. The interplay between JCPyV and host cell factors is critical to understanding disease outcomes and PML pathogenesis. Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the detailed molecular interactions between the virus and host cell factors that drive the early steps in the infectious cycle including entry, trafficking, and viral transcription. In particular, we are focused on defining how JCPyV uses the serotonin receptor to transverse the plasma membrane, identifying signaling cascades that drive viral transcription, and elucidating how the virus causes persistent and lytic infections. This research will allow us to define key unanswered questions in JCPyV biology, provide crucial insights into JCPyV pathogenesis, and identify novel targets for rational drug design for prevention and treatment of PML.

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Selected Publications

  • Maginnis, M.S. + (2023). Beta-arrestin and G protein-coupled receptor kinases in viral entry: A graphical review. Cellular Signaling, 102: 110558. +, Corresponding author.
  • Mehmood, K., Wilczek, M.P., DuShane, J.K., Parent, M.T., Mayberry, C.L., Wallace, J.N., Levasseur, F.L., Fong, T.M., Hess, S.T.+, and Maginnis, M.S. + (2022). Dynamics and Patterning of 5-Hydroxytryptamine 2 Subtype Receptors in Response to Ligand JC Polyomavirus. Viruses, 14(12), 2597. +, Corresponding author. [Selected as Highlight Paper].
  • Regan, D., Fong, C., Bond, A.C.S., Desjardins, C., Hardcastle, J., Hung, S.H., Holmes, A.P., Schiffman, J.D., Maginnis, M.S., and Howell, C. (2022). Improved Recovery of Captured Airborne Bacteria and Viruses with Liquid-coated Air Filters. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 14(45):50543-50556.
  • Wilczek, M.P., Pike, A.C.M., Craig, S., Maginnis, M.S.+, and King, B.L. + (2022). Rearrangement in the Hypervariable Region of JC Polyomavirus Genomes Isolated from Patient Samples and Impact on Transcription Factor-Binding Sites and Disease Outcomes. IMJS, 23(10):5699. +, Corresponding authors.
  • Wilczek, M.P., Armstrong, F.A., Mayberry, C.L., King, B.L. and Maginnis, M.S. + (2021). PI3K/AKT/mTOR Signaling Pathway is Required for JCPyV Infection in Primary Astrocytes. Cells, 10(11): 3218. +, Corresponding author.
  • Wilczek, M.P., Armstrong, F.A., Geohegan, R.P., Mayberry, C.L., DuShane, J.K., King, B.L., and Maginnis, M.S.+ (2021). The MAPK/ERK Pathway and the Role of DUSPI in JCPyV Infection of Primary Astrocytes. Viruses,13(9):1834. +, Corresponding author.
  • Mayberry, C.L., Bond, C.S., Wilczek, M.P., Mehmood, K., and Maginnis, M.S.+ (2021). Sending Mixed Signals: Polyomavirus Entry and Trafficking. Current Opinion in Virology, 47:95-105. [Invited review]. +, Corresponding author.
  • Mayberry, C.L., Wilczek, M.P., Fong, T.M., Nichols, S.L., and Maginnis, M.S.+ (2021). GRK2 Mediates -arrestin Interactions with 5-HT2 Receptors for JC Polyomavirus Endocytosis. In press, Journal of Virology, 95(7): e02139-20. [Spotlight Article]. +, Corresponding author.
  • Mayberry, C.L. and Maginnis, M.S.+ (2020). Taking the Scenic Route: Polyomaviruses Utilize Multiple Pathways to Reach the Same Destination. Viruses, 12(10):1168. [Invited Review]. +, Corresponding author.


  • 2019 to 2022 — $435,328 — Academic Research Enhancement Award, NIH/NIAID
  • 2014 to 2019 — $598,000 — Maine INBRE from NIGMS, NIH


Link to 2020 CV