James L. Van Etten
William Allington Distinguished Professor
- PH.D., University of Illinois, 1965
Dr. Van Etten is studying a family of recently discovered large, polyhedral, plaque forming, dsDNA viruses that replicate in certain eukaryotic unicellular Chlorella-like green algae. One surprising feature of these viruses is that at least some of them encode for DNA modification and restriction systems. In fact, the virus-infected algae are a new source of type II DNA restriction endonucleases and the first source from a nonprokaryotic system. The plaque assay, the ability to synchronously infect the host, the short life cycle, and the ability of the viruses to undergo homologous recombination make them excellent model systems for studying DNA replication and gene expression in a photosynthetic eukaryote.