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Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, PhD, DDS

Department of Dental Ecology
4506 Koury Oral Health Sciences
919-537-3177 – office
919-537-3492 – lab


A goal of our laboratory is to understand viral molecular pathogenesis in oral disease, in states of health and immunocompromise. There are eight known human herpes viruses that cause persistent infections and are shed into the oral cavity during immunosuppression causing increased morbidity. These DNA viruses are all marked by their ability to establish permanent, persistent infections where the viral infection may be latent, chronic, or transforming. These viruses manipulate host immune recognition and response to allow for these continuous infections and affect specific cellular pathways to induce cell growth or death. Our laboratory seeks to understand the critical molecular interactions that occur between the virus and the host that govern the development of oral lesions and malignancies.

These viruses cause AIDS defining lesions such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Hairy leukoplakia (HLP) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-associated ulcerative disease. Over time there has been a shift in the prevalence of these lesions with the incidence of Hairy Leukoplakia, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma decreasing and HIV associated Salivary Gland disease (HIV SGD) on the rise. Past and ongoing studies have determined viral and cellular gene expression within the HLP and oral KS lesions. An aim of the laboratory is to determine whether viral prevalence varies with changes in immune status and anti-AIDS drug regimen. We are developing technologies to characterize viral infection and load in body fluids and oral lesions. In HIV SGD, the etiologic agent remains unknown. One goal of the laboratory is to characterize pathogenesis in HIVSGD and determine the role of candidate herpes viruses in this disease. Current projects include determination of differential gene expression in diseased versus healthy glandular tissue.

DNA viruses often infect and replicate in oral epithelia and are increasingly associated with oral neoplasms. We are performing studies that examine the pattern of viral gene expression and cellular effectors of viral gene products to determine which viral products and cellular genes are important to the development of oral neoplasms. These types of studies aid understanding of molecular mechanisms of oral disease.


Ghannoum MA, Mukherjee PK, Jurevic RJ, Retuerto M, Brown RE, Sikaroodi M, Webster-Cyriaque J, Gillevet PM (2011). Metabolomics Reveals Differential Levels of Oral Metabolites in HIV-Infected Patients: Toward Novel Diagnostic Targets. OMICS.

Tugizov SM, Webster-Cyriaque JY, Syrianen S, Chattopadyay A, Sroussi H, Zhang L, Kaushal A (2011). Mechanisms of viral infections associated with HIV: workshop 2B. Adv Dent Res. 23(1):130-6.

Jeffers L, Webster-Cyriaque JY (2011). Viruses and salivary gland disease (SGD): lessons from HIV SGD.
Adv Dent Res. 23(1):79-83. Review.

Seaman WT, Andrews E, Couch M, Kojic EM, Cu-Uvin S, Palefsky J, Deal AM, Webster-Cyriaque J (2010). Detection and quantitation of HPV in genital and oral tissues and fluids by real time PCR. Virol J. 7:194.

Jeffers LK, Madden V, Webster-Cyriaque J (2009). BK virus has tropism for human salivary gland cells in vitro: implications for transmission. Virology. 394(2):183-93.

Andrews E, Shores C, Hayes DN, Couch M, Southerland J, Morris D, Seaman WT, Webster-Cyriaque J (2009). Concurrent human papillomavirus-associated tonsillar carcinoma in 2 couples. J Infect Dis. 200(6):882-7.

Shiboski CH, Patton LL, Webster-Cyriaque JY, Greenspan D, Traboulsi RS, Ghannoum M, Jurevic R, Phelan JA, Reznik D, Greenspan JS; Oral HIV/AIDS Research Alliance, Subcommittee of the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (2009). The Oral HIV/AIDS Research Alliance: updated case definitions of oral disease endpoints. J Oral Pathol Med. 38(6):481-8.

Andrews E, Seaman WT, Webster-Cyriaque J (2009). Oropharyngeal carcinoma in non-smokers and non-drinkers: a role for HPV. Oral Oncol. 45(6):486-91.

Morris TL, Arnold RR, Webster-Cyriaque J (2007). Signaling cascades triggered by bacterial metabolic end products during reactivation of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. J Virol. 81(11):6032-42.

Kalachandra S, Takamata T, Lin DM, Snyder EA, Webster-Cyriaque J (2006). Stability and release of antiviral drugs from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 17(12):1227-36.

Kepler GM, Nguyen HK, Webster-Cyriaque J, Banks HT (2007). A dynamic model for induced reactivation of latent virus. J Theor Biol. 244(3):451-62.

Webster-Cyriaque J, Duus K, Cooper C, Duncan M (2006). Oral EBV and KSHV infection in HIV. Adv Dent Res. 19(1):91-5.

Hahn AM, Huye LE, Ning S, Webster-Cyriaque J, Pagano JS (2005). Interferon regulatory factor 7 is negatively regulated by the Epstein-Barr virus immediate-early gene, BZLF-1. J Virol. 79(15):10040-52.

Complete list of publications


Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC)
Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders
Dental Research Center
Clinical Research Curriculum