Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Penn State Science
You are here: Home Directory Craig Cameron
Craig Cameron

Craig Cameron

Main Content

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Eberly Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
201 Althouse Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-8705

Research Interests

RNA polymerases and RNA-binding proteins in viral infection and mitochondrial disease


Graduate Programs


Cameron Lab Logo

Research Summary

RNA Polymerases and RNA-binding Proteins in Viral Infection and Mitochondrial Disease

Since its inception, the primary goal of this laboratory has been development of strategies to treat or to prevent infections by RNA viruses.  We have used poliovirus and hepatitis C virus (HCV) as our primary model systems.  Our expertise in virology, biochemistry and mechanistic enzymology brings a unique combination of intellectual and technical resources to the study of RNA viruses.  Our initial focus was the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp).  In particular, we were interested in the kinetic, thermodynamic and structural basis for fidelity of nucleotide incorporation, a topic of considerable importance not only for accurate maintenance, transmission and expression of genetically encoded information but also for targeting the RdRp for antiviral therapy.  These studies have led to exciting discoveries that have moved the lab into many new areas, including enzyme dynamics, vesicular trafficking, innate immunity, vaccine development and mitochondrial molecular biology.  Our work is highly collaborative and includes research teams from academia (local, national and international), government and industry.  We currently have projects in the following areas:  RNA-dependent RNA polymerase mechanism, Viral attenuation and vaccine development, Picornavirus genome replication, Biochemical mechanisms and biological functions of HCV NS3 and NS5a proteins, Mitochondrial transcription and disease, and Lethal mutagenesis as an antiviral strategy.


Cameron Lab Group Photo


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Arnold, J.J., Sharma, S.D., Feng, J.Y., Ray, A.S., Smidansky, E.D., Kireeva, M.L., Cho, A., Perry, J., Vela, J., Park, Y., Xu, Y., Tian, Y., Babusis, D., Barauskus, O., Peterson, B.R., Gnatt, A., Kashlev, M., Zhong, W. and Cameron, C.E. (2012). Sensitivity of mitochondrial transcription and resistance of RNA polymerase II dependent nuclear transcription to antiviral ribonucleosides. PLoS Pathog. 8, e1003030.
  • Weeks, S.A., Lee, C.A., Zhao, Y., Smidansky, E.D., August, A., Arnold, J.J. and Cameron, C.E. (2012). A polymerase mechanism-based strategy for viral attenuation and vaccine development. J. Biol. Chem. 287, 31618-31622.
  • Yang, X., Smidansky, E.D., Maksimchuk, K.R., Lum, D., Welch, J.L., Arnold, J.J., Cameron, C.E. and Boehr, D.D. (2012). Motif D of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases determines efficiency and fidelity of nucleotide addition. Structure 20, 1519-1527.
  • Trahey, M., Oh, H.S., Cameron, C.E. and Hay, J.C. (2012). Poliovirus infection transiently increases COPII vesicle budding. J. Virol. 86, 9675-9682.
  • Lodeiro, M.F., Uchida, A., Bestwick, M., Moustafa, I., Arnold, J.J., Shadel, G.S. and Cameron, C.E. (2012). Transcription from the second heavy-strand promoter of human mitochondrial DNA is repressed by transcription factor A in vitro. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 109, 6573-6578.
  • Graci, J.D., Gnädig, N.F., Galarraga, J.E., Castro C., Vignuzzi, M. and Cameron C.E. (2012). Mutational robustness of an RNA virus influences sensitivity to lethal mutagenesis. J. Virol. 86, 2869-2873.
  • Moustafa, I.M., Shen, H., Morton, B., Colina, C.M., and Cameron, C.E. (2011). Molecular dynamics simulations of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase: Conserved and correlated motions of functional elements. J. Mol. Biol. 410, 159-181.
  • Hsu, N.-Y., Ilnytska, O., Belov, G., Santiana, M., Chen, Y.-H., Takvorian, P., Pau, C., van der Schaar, H., Kaushik-Basu, N., Balla, T., Cameron, C.E., Ehrenfeld, E., van Kuppeveld, F.J.M. and Altan-Bonnet, N. (2010) Viruses reorganize secretory pathway to form organelles with specific lipid microenvironment for RNA replication. Cell 141, 799-811.
  • Castro, C., Smidansky, E.D., Arnold, J.J., Maksimchuk, K.R., Moustafa, I., Uchida, A., Götte, M., Konigsberg, W. and Cameron, C.E. (2009). Nucleic acid polymerases employ a general acid for nucleotidyl transfer. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 16, 212-8.
  • Arias, A., Arnold, J.J., Sierra, M., Smidansky, E.D., Domingo, E. and Cameron, C.E. (2008). Determinants of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (in)fidelity revealed by kinetic analysis of the polymerase encoded by a foot-and-mouth disease virus mutant with reduced sensitivity to ribavirin. J. Virol. 82, 12346-55.
  • Pathak, H.B., Oh, H.S., Goodfellow, I.G., Arnold, J.J., and Cameron, C.E. (2008). Picornavirus genome replication: Roles of precursor proteins and rate-limiting steps in oriI-dependent VPg uridylylation. J. Biol. Chem. 283, 30677-88.
  • Nallagatla, S.R., Hwang, J., Toroney, R., Zheng, X., Cameron, C.E. and Bevilacqua, P.C. (2007) 5’-Triphosphate-dependent activation of PKR by RNAs with short stem-loops. Science 318, 1455-8.
  • Castro, C., Smidansky, E., Maksimchuk, K.R., Arnold, J.J., Korneeva, V.S., Gotte, M., Konigsberg, W., and Cameron, C.E. (2007). Two proton transfers in the transition state for nucleotidyl transfer catalyzed by RNA- and DNA-dependent RNA and DNA polymerases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA). 104, 4267-72.
  • Vignuzzi, M., Stone, J.K., Arnold, J.J., Cameron, C.E., and Andino, R. (2006). Genomic diversity in a viral population determines fitness, tissue tropism and pathogenesis. Nature 439, 344-8.


Review Articles

  • Cameron, C.E., Oh, H.S. and Moustafa, I.M. (2010). The expanding role of P3 proteins in the poliovirus lifecycle. Future Microbiol. 5, 867-81.
  • Cordek, D.G., Bechtel, J.T., Maynard, A., Kazmierski, W.M. and Cameron, C.E. (2011). Targeting the NS5A protein of HCV: an emerging option. Drugs of the Future (Prous Thomson Reuters) 36, 691-711.
  • Arnold, J.J., Smidansky E.D., Moustafa, I.M., and Cameron, C.E. (2012). Human mitochondrial RNA polymerase: Structure-function, mechanism and inhibition. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1819, 948-60.
  • Cameron, C.E. (2013). Future virology: A mitochondriac's perspective. Future Virol. 8, 933-935.

Books and Edited Volumes

  • Cameron, C.E., Götte, M., and Raney K.D. (2009). Viral Genome Replication. Springer Publishers, NY.
  • Cameron, C.E. and Cline S.D. (2012). Mitochondrial Gene Expression. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)- Gene Regulatory Mechanisms. Volume 1819, Issues 9-10, 913-1112.