||Salivary Gland Disease
HIV-associated salivary gland disease (HIV-SGD) has been universally established as an important AIDS-associated oral lesion. The morbidity of HIV-SGD is substantial, with the resulting lack of salivary gland function contributing to caries and periodontal disease, pain associated with cystic development, and development of malignancy in a percentage of cases. Despite a clear understanding of HIV-SGD clinical and histological features, there is a critical gap in the knowledge base that centers on the etiology of this disease and the resultant deficiency to prevent and treat the disease. Our group has consistently detected BK virus (BKV) in HIV-SGD. We hypothesize that BKV plays a role in HIV-SGD pathogenesis by infecting, replicating and altering cellular gene functions in the salivary gland. My research determines the role of BKV pathogenesis in HIV-SGD, and investigates the cellular processes that define HIV-SGD pathology. We will use an in vivo model and develop an in vitro model system to test our hypothesis. The in vivo model functions to determine global changes in salivary gland function and gene expression as a result of viral pathogenesis in biopsied salivary gland tissue from HIV-SGD patients. The in vitro model makes use of transformed and primary salivary gland cells infected with BKV and will be used to confirm in vivo findings. Additionally, we will investigate the role of a novel non-coding RNA associated with tumor metastasis that we have shown to be up-regulated in HIV-SGD. It is crucial that strides be taken toward understanding the etiology of HIV-SGD in order to go beyond the ineffective palliative treatment that is currently the standard of care.