Luis P. Villarreal

Picture of Luis P. Villarreal
Professor Emeritus, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
School of Biological Sciences
Founding Director, Center for Virus Research, Center for Virus Research
PH.D., University of California, San Diego
B.S., California State University at Los Angeles, 1971, Biochemistry
Phone: (949)824-9314
Fax: (949)824-9437
University of California, Irvine
CVR office, Bio Sci III
Mail Code: 3900
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
virus evolution, viral gene therapy vectors, BSL3 cell culture, cancer virology, proteomics, biodefense
Academic Distinctions
SACNAS Distinguished Scientist
Distinguished Alumnus Award from California State University, Los Angeles
National Science Foundation Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring
Elected, Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology
Stanford University, Department of Biochemistry, under direction of Dr. Paul Berg, on recombinant SV40 expression
Research Abstract
For the last 15 years, I have focused my study on the general role of virus evolution on Life. In the last decade metagenomic assessments have led us to realize that viruses are the dominate biological entities of the biosphere and are the most numerous, diverse and dynamic genetic agents on Earth. Although viruses have long been dismissed from the Tree of Life a simply destructive and selfish extra-genomic genetic parasites, comparative genomics now makes it clear that viral colonization distinguishes all domains of life. I have been pursuing how and why some viruses (and their defective relatives, transposons) are able to stably persist in their host and sometimes become a colonizer of the host genome. The ability of a virus to persist is a transforming event for host population survival and requires specific mechanisms and strategies. These viral derived mechanisms, however, provide new mechanisms of immunity and identity for the host. I am now tracing how viruses have contributed to host group survival from bacteria to human social evolution.
Villarreal, L. P. "Origin of group identity: viruses." Addiction and Cooperation. Springer, New York (2009).
Villarreal, Luis P. "Persistent virus and addiction modules: an engine of symbiosis." Current opinion in microbiology 31 (2016): 70-79.
Luis P. Villarreal and Guenther Witzany. Viruses are essential agents within the roots and the stem of the tree of life. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 262:698-710. 2010.
Villarreal, Luis P. "Viruses and the placenta: the essential virus first view." Apmis 124.1-2 (2016): 20-30.
Villarreal, Luis P. "Force for ancient and recent life: viral and stem-loop RNA consortia promote life." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1341.1 (2015): 25-34.
Luis P. Villarreal. 'Origin of Group Identity; Viruses, Addiction and Cooperation'. Springer Press. 2009.
Villarreal, Luis P., and Guenther Witzany. "When competing viruses unify: evolution, conservation, and plasticity of genetic identities." Journal of molecular evolution 80.5-6 (2015): 305-318.
Luis P. Villarreal. The source of self; genetic parasites and the origin of adaptive immunity. Ann N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1178; 194-232. 2009
Villarreal, Luis P. "Virolution can help us understand the origin of life." Astrobiology: An evolutionary approach (2015): 421-440.
L. P. Villarreal Virus-host symbiosis mediated by persistence. Symbiosis 43: 2009
Villarreal, L. P, Witzany, G. "DNA Habitats and Their RNA Inhabitants: At the Dawn of RNA Sociology". Genomics Insights 2013:6 1–12.
Luis P. Villarreal. The widespread evolutionary significance of viruses. In 'Origin and Evolution of Viruses'. E. Domingo, C. Parrish & J. Hollandl (ed). Academic Press 2008
Viral ancestors of antiviral systems.
Villarreal LP.
Viruses. 2011 Oct;3(10):1933-58. Epub 2011 Oct 20.
Luis P. Villarreal. How viruses shape the tree of life, Future Virology, 1(5): 587-595. (2006)
Luis P. Villarreal. Persistence pays: how viruses promote host group survival. Current Opinions in Microbiology. 12:1-6. 2009
López-Bueno, A., Villarreal, L.P. Almendral, J.M. Parvovirus Variation for Disease: A Difference with RNA Viruses? in CTMI 299. Springer: New York. (2005)
Villarreal, Luis P., and Guenther Witzany. "Rethinking quasispecies theory: From fittest type to cooperative consortia." World J Biol Chem 4.4 (2013): 79-90.
Davies DH, Liang X, Hernandez JE, Randall A, Hirst S, Mu Y, Romero KM, Nguyen TT, Kalantari-Dehaghi M, Crotty S, Baldi P, Villarreal LP, Felgner PL. Profiling the humoral immune response to infection by using proteome microarrays: High-throughput vaccine and diagnostic antigen discovery. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S Jan 18;102(3):547-52, 2005.
Luis P. Villarreal. Viruses and the Evolution of Life. (ASM Press, Washington), 2004.
Viruses are essential agents within the roots and stem of the tree of life.
Villarreal LP, Witzany G.
J Theor Biol. 2010 Feb 21;262(4):698-710. Epub 2009 Oct 13.
Luis P. Villarreal, "Can Viruses Make Us Human?" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 148.3: 296-323. September 2004.
The source of self: genetic parasites and the origin of adaptive immunity.
Villarreal LP.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Oct;1178:194-232.
A. Z. Randall, P. Baldi, and L. P. Villarreal. Structural Proteomics of the Poxvirus Family. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Journal, special issue on “Data mining in Genomics and Proteomics” 31: 105-115. 2004.
Persistence pays: how viruses promote host group survival.
Villarreal LP.
Curr Opin Microbiol. 2009 Aug;12(4):467-72. Epub 2009 Jul 14. Review.
Luis P. Villarreal, "Are Viruses Alive?" Scientific American, 96-102 December 2004.
Shane Crotty, Phil Felgner, Huw Davies, John Glidewell, Luis Villarreal, and Rafi Ahmed. Cutting Edge: Long term B Cell Memory in Humans after Smallpox Vaccination. J. of Immunology 171: 4969-4973, 2003.
Luis P. Villarreal. Evolution of Viruses. In 'Encyclopedia of Viruses'. B. Mahy & M Van Regenmortel (eds.). Academic Press. 2008
Professional Societies
American Society for Microbiology
Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans
Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans
Graduate Programs
Research Centers
Center for Virus Research
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