Javier Mota, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist I | Dr. Marie-Claire Gauduin's Lab | Host Pathogen Interaction

Research Focus

Infectious diseases caused by viruses are a major threat to human health. Viruses have been infecting humans since ancient times, causing devastating pandemics and producing emerging and re-emerging infections, such as the current pandemic of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or the recent outbreaks by Zika virus, appearing in the American continent for the first time in 2015. Dr. Mota has continuing interest in studying the complex interactions between the human host and the virus. By understanding this relationship at the cellular and molecular level, we will be able to generate better and improved ways to control viral infections, including novel vaccines and/or drugs.

Inside the Lab

HIV vaccine. In Dr. Gauduin’s laboratory we are working in the development of a novel vaccine against HIV. Using the SIV/rhesus macaque model, we are interested in studying, in fine detail, the immune response generated by our patented live pseudotyped virus particle; this viral vaccine contains an attenuated SIV genome, which cannot replicate, and in which, the protein expression is under the control of the involucrin promoter, restricting the SIV antigens production to specific layers of the epithelial tissue.  We are evaluating different routes of immunization, and studying the role of different immune cells, involved in the early stages of the immune response. We are also interested in understand how this viral vaccine, that is expressed only in the keratinocytes, efficiently induce the production of protective IgA and IgG antibodies, as well as the stimulation of a strong cellular response.

Tuberculosis (TB). We are also developing a new vaccine against TB, in collaboration with Dr. Chinnaswamy from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. We will evaluate a novel TLR-BCG vaccine to induce a robust short and long term immune response against tuberculosis in a neonatal non-human primate model.

Main Technologies and Methods Used

  • Development of viral vector-based vaccines
  • Flow cytometry
  • Immunofluorescence of paraffin-embedded tissue
  • Cell culture analysis
  • Production of pseudotyped virus
  • Immunological assays (ELISA, ELISPOT, etc.)
  • PCR and qRT-PCR
  • Molecular cloning