Ina O'Carroll


BIO 351 – Molecular Genetics

BIO 212 – Cell Biology Laboratory

BIO 102 – Biological Basis of Disease

Research interests:

My students and I employ various molecular biology, biochemical, and cell culture methods to understand the basic mechanisms of HIV-1 replication.  HIV-1 is a retrovirus, a virus with an RNA genome which is converted to DNA and subsequently integrated into the host cell genome. Camouflaging as a host gene, the retroviral genome is then replicated by the host cell’s transcriptional machinery. I am particularly interested in understanding how the newly synthesized, unspliced HIV-1 RNA genome is exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm to serve as an mRNA template for synthesis of viral proteins and as genomic RNA to be packaged into new viral particles. This step is essential in HIV-1 replication and, thus, an ideal target for novel therapeutics. In the laboratory portion of Molecular Genetics (BIO 351), we are performing a functional and biochemical analysis of an element in the HIV-1 genomic RNA, called the Rev response element (RRE), that serves as a specific signal for the nucleocytoplasmic export of the genome.

I am also interested in studying the molecular mechanism of retrotransposition. Retrotransposons are mobile elements that occupy an astounding ~42% of the human genome. Like transposable elements, retrotransposons have the ability to copy themselves and integrate into other areas in the genome, but they do so via an RNA intermediate that is converted to DNA by a reverse transcriptase encoded by the retrotransposon. A large proportion of these retrotransposons is inactive, but a subset, containing the LINE-1 elements, is still mobile and the seemingly random integration of these elements can result in unpredictable restructuring of the genome and alterations in gene expression. Retrotransposons contain a poorly understood element that functions as a nuclear export signal for their mRNA. I am interested in further understanding this element at the molecular level and its role in the mechanism of retrotransposition.

Selected publications: 

  • O’Carroll IP and Rein A. Viral nucleic acids. Online Encyclopedia of Cell Biology (in press)
  • Fang X*, Wang J*, O’Carroll IP* et al.. 2013. A unique topological structure of the HIV-1 Rev response element. Cell, 155(3):594-605. * equal contribution
  • O’Carroll IP, Crist RM, Mirro J et al.. 2012. Functional redundancy in HIV-1 assembly. J. Virol. 86(23):12991-6


Ina Puleri O'Carroll

Ina Puleri O'Carroll
Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology

Phone: (717) 337 - 6349

Box: Campus Box 0392

Address: McCreary Hall
Room 204 B
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400

BA McDaniel College, 2004
PhD Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009
Postdoctoral Research: National Institutes of Health, 2014

Academic Focus:
retroviruses, molecular virology, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology

O'Carroll Lab Website