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Photo of Janet E. Mertz.

Faculty: Janet E. Mertz

Dept: Professor of Oncology
Contact: 713A McArdle

Training Areas:

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Cellular & Molecular Biology
Cancer Biology
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Interests

One of our group’s long-term interests involves transcriptional regulation of the genes of the primate DNA tumor viruses simian virus 40 (SV40), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) that have been implicated in a variety of human cancers. We have found that members of the steroid/thyroid/retinoid hormone receptor superfamily play direct roles in regulating transcription and replication of SV40 and HBV, indicating that appropriate analogues of ligands to these receptors may prove useful as anti-viral drugs for the treatment of acute and chronic infections by some viruses. Recently, we have identified new factors including ZEB1 (deltaEF1) and ZEB2 (SIP1), that play crucial roles in the establishment and maintenance of EBV latency and reactivation of EBV into replication. Understanding the activities of these factors and how they are altered via cell signaling pathways may lead to new therapies for treating some EBV-associated diseases including lymphomas and carcinomas.

Our group’s second area of research concerns the roles of the human estrogen-related receptor a(ERRa) in regulation of estrogen responsiveness and breast carcinogenesis. We have found that ERRa can function either as a down-modulator or a constitutive activator of estrogen response element-directed transcription, with its activity likely regulated in part by post-translational modifications occurring via ErbB2 signaling pathways. We have also determined that ERR_ is likely a major player in the subset of breast cancers lacking estrogen receptor activity or resistant to tamoxifen. Thus, understanding how ERR_’s activities are affected by signaling pathways may lead to the development of additional tools for prognosis and therapeutic treatments, especially for ER-negative and tamoxifen-resistant breast cancers.

Honors & Awards

Other Positions & Affiliations

Selected Publications

(Find publications on PubMed)

  • Ma SD, Yu X, Mertz JE, Gumperz JE, Reinheim E, Zhou Y, Tang W, Burlingham WJ, Gulley ML, Kenney SC. An Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) mutant with enhanced BZLF1 expression causes lymphomas with abortive lytic EBV infection in a humanized mouse model. J Virol. 2012 Aug;86(15):7976-87. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00770-12. Epub 2012 May 23. PMID: 22623780
  • Yu X, McCarthy PJ, Wang Z, Gorlen DA, Mertz JE. Shutoff of BZLF1 gene expression is necessary for immortalization of primary B cells by Epstein-Barr virus. J Virol. 2012 Aug;86(15):8086-96. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00234-12. Epub 2012 May 23. PMID: 22623769
  • Esch AM, Thompson NE, Lamberski JA, Mertz JE, Burgess RR. Production and characterization of monoclonal antibodies to estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRα) and use in immunoaffinity chromatography. Protein Expr Purif. 2012 Jul;84(1):47-58. doi: 10.1016/j.pep.2012.04.020. Epub 2012 May 4. PMID: 22565152
  • Lempridee T, Das S, Xu I, Mertz JE.Transforming growth factor beta-induced reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus involves multiple Smad-binding elements cooperatively activating expression of the latent-lytic switch BZLF1 gene. J Virol. 85(15):7836-48. PMID: 21593157
  • Yu X, McCarthy PJ, Lim HJ, Iempridee T, Kraus RJ, Gorlen DA, Mertz JE (2011). The ZIIR element of the Epstein-Barr virus BZLF1 promoter plays a central role in establishment and maintenance of viral latency. J Virol. 85(10):5081-90. PMID: 21389123
  • Berg P and Mertz JE. (2010) Personal Reflections on the Origins and Emergence of Recombinant DNA Technology. Genetics 184 9-17.
  • Ellis AL, Wang Z Y, and Mertz JE. (2010) Either ZEB1 or ZEB2/SIP1 Can Play a Central Role in Regulating the Epstein-Barr Virus Latent-Lytic Switch in a Cell-Type-Specific Manner. J. Virol., 84: 6139-6152.
  • Ellis-Connell, AL, Iempridee T, Xu I, and Mertz JE. (2010) Cellular MicroRNAs 200b and 429 Regulate the Epstein-Barr Virus Switch between Latency and Lytic Replication. J. Virol., 84: 10329-10343.
  • Hagemeier SR, Dickerson SJ, Meng Q, Yu X, Mertz J E, and Kenney S C. (2010) Sumoylation of the Epstein-Barr Virus BZLF1 Protein Inhibits Its Transcriptional Activity and Is Regulated by the Virus-Encoded Protein Kinase. J. Virol., 84: 4383-4394.
  • Das S, Becker B N, Hoffmann FM, and Mertz J E. (2009) Complete Reversal of Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition Requires Inhibition of Both ZEB Expression and the Rho Pathway. BMC Cell Biol., 10:94.
  • Hyde J S, and Mertz JE. (2009) Gender, Culture, and Mathematics Performance. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106: 8801-8807.
  • Mertz JE. (2009) Why Females Remain Underrepresented in Mathematics at the Highest Level. Am. Soc. Cell Biol. Newsletter, pp. 7-9, August.