Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

Yizhi Tao

Professor in BioSciences

Tao's Research All RNA viruses encode a polymerase that catalyzes both replication and transcription of the viral genome. For many RNA viruses, replication and transcription are two distinct processes with different initiation and termination mechanisms. Furthermore, the rates of mRNA and viral genomic RNA synthesis often peak at different times during infection. Our laboratory is interested in the catalytic mechanisms of viral RNA polymerases and in how RNA viruses exert regulation over RNA synthesis through polymerase interactions with viral and cellular factors.

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Chen H, Toh Y, Rossmann MG, Tao YJ., Crystal structure of the bacteriophage T4 fibritin B1.   2018

Toh Y, Pan J, Vakharia V, Tao YJ, The structure and protein-priming activity of the Drosophila X virus VP1.   2018

Countryman, P., Fan, Y., Gorthi, A., Pan, H., Strickland, J., Kaur, P., Wang, X., Lin, J., Lei, X., White, C.,You, C., Wirth, N., Tessmer, I., Pieler, J., Riehn, R., Bishop, A.J.R., Tao, Y.J., Wang, H., Cohesin SA2 is a sequence independent DNA binding protein that recognizes DNA replication and repairintermediates .  The Journal of Biological Chemistry 2017

Wang, Y., Guo, Y.R., Liu, K., Yin, Z., Liu, R., Xia, Y., Tan, L., Yang, P., Lee, J.H., Li, X.J., Hawke, D., Zheng, Y., Qian, X., Lyu, J., He, J., Xing, D., Tao, Y.J., Lu, Z., KAT2A coupled with the alpha-KGDH complex acts as a histone H3 succinyltransferase.  Nature, 552 2017: 273-277

Meyerson, N.R., Zhou, L., Guo, Y.R., Zhao, C., Tao, Y.J., Krug, R.M., and Sawyer, S.L., Nuclear TRIM25 Specifically Targets Influenza Virus Ribonucleoproteins to Block the Onset of RNA Chain Elongation.  Cell Host Microb, 22 2017: 627-638, e627

Yuan, W., Zhou, Y., Fan, Y., Guo, Y.R., Tao, Y.J., Zhong, W., Orsay virus δ protein interacts with actin to mediate polarized egress from host intestine.  Journal of Virology 2017

Tao, Y.J.and Lozach, P.Y Recent Progress in Bunyavirus Research.  MDPI, Switzerland 2017

Fan, Y., Guo, Y.R., Yuan, W., Zhou, Y., Holt, M.V., Wang, T., Demeler, B., Young, N.L., Zhong, W., Tao, Y.J., Structure of a pentameric virion-associated fiber with a potential role in Orsay virus entry to host cells. .  PLoS Pathogens , 13 2017: e1006231

Zhang, W., Cai, C., Lin, L., Tao, Y.J., Jin, M., Subcellular localization and interactions of Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV) M1 and NEP as well as host Hsc7.  Virol J. , 14 2017: 30

Zhang, W., Zheng, W., Toh, Y., Betancourt, B., Tu, J., Fan, Y., Vakharia, V., Liu, J., McNew, J., Jin, M., Tao, Y.J., The crystal structure of an orthomyxovirus matrix protein reveals mechanisms for self-polymerization and membrane association.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 114 2017: 8550–55

Collier AM, Lyytinen OL, Guo YR, Toh Y, Poranen MM, Tao YJ, Initiation of RNA Polymerization and Polymerase Encapsidation by a Small dsRNA Virus.  PLoS Pathogens, 12(4) 2016

Zheng, W., Zhang, W., Guo, Y.R., Tao, Y.J. Chapter 4: Structure and assembly of the influenza A virus ribonucleoprotien complex.  Influenza: Current Research 2016

Countryman P, Fan Y, Kaur P, Pan H, Wang X, Lin J, Chen H, Wang W, White C, You C, Wirth N, Tessmer I, Piehler J, Riehn R, Tao YJ, Wang H. Cohesin SA2 is a sequence independent DNA binding protein that recognizes DNA ends and gaps.  Nat Commun 2016

Toh Y, Harper J, Dryden KA, Yeager M, Arias CF, Mendez E, Tao YJ, Crystal Structure of the Human Astrovirus Capsid Protein.  Journal of virology, 90(20) 2016: 9008-17

Zhang W, Zheng W, Betancourt B, Toh Y, Vakharia V, McNew J, Jin M, Tao YJ, Crystal structure of the infectious salmon anemia virus matrix protein M1.   2016

Meyer PA, Socias S, Key J, Ransey E, Tjon EC, Buschiazzo A, et al Data publication with the structural biology data grid supports live analysis.  Nat Commun., 7 2016: 10882

Lin J, Countryman P, Chen H, Pan H, Fan Y, Jiang Y, et al Functional interplay between SA1 and TRF1 in telomeric DNA binding and DNA-DNA pairing.   Nucleic Acids Res 2016

Wang Y, Guo YR, Liu K, Liu R, Tan L, Yang P, Lee J, Du L, Xia Y, Hawke D, Zheng Y, Xing D, Tao YJ*, Lu Z* Gcn5 Coupled with the α-KGDH Complex Acts as a Histone H3 Succinyltransferase.  Nature 2016

Liu Z, Guu TS, Cao J, Li Y, Cheng L, Tao YJ, et al Structure determination of a human virus by the combination of cryo-EM and X-ray crystallography.  Biophys Rep, 2 (2) 2016: 55-68

Fan Y, Guo YR, Yuan W, Zhong W, Tao YJ. Structure of the Orsay virus δ/CP-δ Protein Reveals its Role in Cell Entry. PLoS pathogens.   2016

Meyerson NR, Zhou L, Guo YR, Tao YJ, Krug RM, Sawyer SL. TRIM25 senses and restricts the influenza A virus ribonucleoprotein complex.  Nature Microbiology 2016

Guo YR, Hryc CF, Jakana J, Jiang H, Wang D, Chiu W, Zhong W, Tao YJ.  2014.  

Crystal structure of a nematode-infecting virus.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.  111(35):12781-12786

Zhang N, Jiang Y, Mao Q, Demeler B, Tao YJ, Pati D Characterization of the interaction between the cohesin subunits Rad21 and SA1/2.  PLoS One , 8 2013: e69458

Zheng W, Tao YJ. Genome encapsidation by orthobunyavirus nucleoproteins.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110(22) 2013: 8769-70

Zheng, W., Tao, Y.J. Structure and assembly of the influenza A virus ribonucleoprotein complex.  FEBS Lett, 587(8) 2013: 1206-14

Zheng, W., Olson, J.S., Vakharia, V.V., Tao, Y.J. The structure and RNA binding of an orthomyxovirus nucleoprotein.  PLoS Pathog 2013: e1003624

Dubois, R., Dryden, K.A., Yeager, M., Tao, Y.J. Astrovirus Structure and Function .  Astrovirus Pathogegnesis 2012

Ye Q, Guu TS, Mata DA, Kuo RL, Smith B, Krug RM, Tao YJ. Biochemical and structural evidence in support of a coherent model for the formation of the double-helical influenza a virus ribonucleoprotein .  MBio. , 4(1) 2012 Dec 26: e00467

Tao YJ, Zheng W. Biochemistry. Visualizing the influenza genome. .  Science, 338(6114) 2012 Dec 21: 1545-6

Jesper K. Marklund, Qiaozhen Ye, Jinhui Dong, Yizhi Jane Tao, Robert M. Krug Sequence in the Influenza A Virus Nucleoprotein Required for Viral Polymerase Binding and RNA Synthesis.  J Virol., 86(13) 2012 July: 7292–7297

Fallas, J.A., Dong, J., Tao, Y.J., Hartgerink, J.D. Structural insights into charge pair interactions in triple helical collagen-like proteins.  J Biol Chem. , 287(11) 2012 Mar 9: 8039-47

Nibert, M.L., Baker, T.S., Tao, Y.J. Structure of Partitiviruses.  Advances in Virus Research on Mycoviruses 2012

Tao, Y.J. Bunyaviruses.  Viral Molecular Machines 2011

Tao, Y.J. Bunyaviruses: Structure and Replication.  In Viral Molecular Machines 2011

Tao, Y.J., Zheng W. Chaperones and the maturation of steroid hormone receptor complexes.  Oncotarget, 2 2011: 102-104

Ghabrial, S.A., Nibert, M.L., Baker, T.S., Tao, Y.J. Chapter 49: Family Partitiviridae.  Ninth report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) 2011

Dong, J., Dong, L., Mendez, E., Tao, Y.J. Crystal structure of the human astrovirus capsid surface spike.  PNAS, 108 2011: 12681-6

Ghabrial, S.A., Nibert, M.L., Baker, T.S., Tao, Y.J. Family Partitiviridae.  Ninth report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) 2011

Zheng, L., Tao, Y.J., Zhang, J.Q. Structures and function of Hepatitis E virus capsid.  Viral Hepatitis 2011

Tang, J. Pan, J., Havens, W.M., Ochoa, W.F., Guu, T.S., Ghabrial, S.A., Nibert, M.L., Tao, Y.J. (co-corresponding author), Baker, T.S Backbone Trace of a Partitivirus Capsid Protein from Electron Cryomicroscopy and Homology Modeling.  Biophysical J, 99 2010: 685-694

Wang, Q., and Tao, Y.J. Influenza: Molecular Virology.  Caister Academic Press 2010

Ye, Q., Mata, D.A., Kuo, R.L., KyTonthat, N., Guu, T., Schumacher, M.A., Krug, R.M., Tao, Y.J. Model for the assembly of the influenza A virus nucleoprotein into double-helical ribonucleoproteins.  PLoS Pathogens 2010

Tao Y.J., Ye, Q. RNA virus replication complexes.  PLoS Pathogens, 6:e1000943 2010

Pan, J., Dong, L., Lin, L., Ochoa, W.F., Sinkovits, R.S., Havens, W.M., Nibert, M.L., Baker, T.S., Ghabrial, S.A., and Tao, Y.J. Atomic structure reveals the unique capsid organization of a dsRNA virus.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106 2009: 4225-4230

Newcomb, L., Kuo, R.L., Ye, Q.,, Jiang, Y., Tao, Y.J., and Krug, R.M. Interaction of the influenza A virus nuclecapsid protein with the viral RNA polymerase potentiates unprimed viral RNA replication.  J Virol, 83 2009: 29-36

Pan, J., Lin, L., and Tao, Y.J. Self-guanylylation of birnavirus VP1 does not require an intact polymerase activity site.  Virology, 395 2009: 87-96

Guu, T., Liu, Z., Ye, Q., Mata, D.A., Li, K., Yin, C., Zhang, J., and Tao, Y.J. Structure of the hepatitis E virus-like particle suggests mechanisms for virus assembly and receptor binding.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106 2009: 12992-12997

McDonald, S.M., Tao, Y.J., and Patton, J.T. The ins and outs of the four-tunneled RNA-dependent RNA polymerases.  Curr Opin Struct Biol, 19 2009: 1-8

Tao, Y.J. The power of persistence - overcome flu.  The Light of Life: Lecture Series on Life and Career 2009

Newcomb, L.L., Kuo, R.L., Ye, Q., Jiang, Y., Tao, Y.J., Krug, R.M. Interaction of the influenza A virus nucleocapsid protein with the viral RNA polymerase potentiates unprimed viral RNA replication.  Journal of Virology, 83 2008: 29-36

Guu, T.S., Dong, L., Wittung-Stafshede, P., and Tao, Y.J. Mapping the domain structure of the influenza A virus polymerase acidic protein (PA) and its interaction with the basic protein 1 (PB1) subunit.  Virology, 379 2008: 135-142

Lu, X, McDonald, S.M., Tortorici, A., Tao, Y.J., Vasquez-Del Carpio, R., Nibert, M.L., Patton, J.T., Harrison, S.C. Mechanism for coordinated RNA packaging and genome replication by rotavirus polymerase VP1.  Structure, 16 2008: 1678–1688

Tao, Y.J., Harrison, S.C Chapter 13: Crystal Structure of Reovirus Polymerase Lambda3 .  Segmented Double-stranded RNA Viruses: Structure and Molecular Biology 2007

Pan, J., Vakharia, V.N., and Tao, Y.J. The structure of a birnavirus polymerase reveals a distinct active site topology.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104 2007: 7385-7390

Ye Q, Krug RM, Tao YJ The mechanism by which influenza A virus nucleoprotein forms oligomers and binds RNA.  Nature, 444 2006: 1078-83

Kim, J., Tao, Y., Reinisch, K.M., Harrison, S.C., and Nibert, M.L. Orthoreovirus and Aquareovirus Cor Proteins: Conserved Enzymatic Surfaces, but not Protein-protein Interfaces.  Virus Res., 101 2004: 15-28

Sayes, C.M., Fortner, J.D., Lyon, D., Boyd, A.M., Ausman K.D., Guo W., Tao Y., Sitharaman, B., Wilson, L.J., West, J.L., and Colvin, V.L. The Differential Cytotoxicity of Water-Soluble Fullerenes.  Nano Letters, 4 2004: 1881-1887

Allison. S.L., Tao, Y.J., O'Riordain, G., Mandl, C.W., Harrison, S.C., and Heinz, F.X. Two distinct size classes of immature and mature subviral particles from tick-borne encephalitis virus.  Journal of Virology, 77 2003: 11357-11366

Tao, Y., Farsetta, D.L., Nibert, M.L., and Harrison, S.C. RNA Synthesis in a Cage -- Structural Studies on Reovirus Polymerase lambda-3.  Cell, 111 2002: 733-745

Morais, M.C., Tao, Y., Olson, N.H., Grimes, S., Jardine, P.J., Anderson, D.L., Baker, T.S., and Rossmann, M.G. Cryo-EM Image Reconstruction of Symmetry Mismatch in Bacteriophage f29.  J. Struct. Biol., 135 2001: 38-46

Simpson, A.A., Leiman, P.G., Tao, Y., He, Y., Badasso, M.O., Jardine, P.J., Anderson, D.L, and Rossmann, M.G. Crystal Structure Determination of the Head-Tail Connector of Bacteriophage f29.  Acta Crystallogr. D Biol. Crystallogr., 57 2001: 1260-1269

Badasso, M.O., Leiman, P.G., Tao, Y., He, Y., Ohlendorf, D.H., Rossmann, M.G., and Anderson, D., Purification, Crystallization and Initial X-ray Analysis of the Head-Tail Connector of Bacteriophage phi29.  Acta Crystallog. D Biol. Crystallog., 56 2000: 1187-1190

Tao, Y., and Zhang, W. Review: Recent Developments in Cryoelectron Microscopy Reconstructing of Single Particles.  Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol., 10 2000: 616-622

Simpson, A.A., Tao, Y. (Equal contributors), Leiman, P.G., Badasso, M.O., He, Y ., Jardine, P.J., Olson, N.H., Morais, M.C., Grimes, S., Anderson, D.L., Baker, T.S., and Rossmann, M.G. Structure of the Bacteriophage phi29 DNA Packaging Motor.  Nature, 408 2000: 745-750

Rossmann, G.M., and Tao, Y. Cryo-electron-microscopy Reconstruction of Partially Symmetric Objects.  J. Struct. Biol., 125 1999: 196-208

Rossmann, M.G., and Tao, Y. Review: Courageous Science: Structural Studies of Bluetongue Virus Core.  Structure Fold Des., 7 1999: R43-46

Rossmann, M.G., and Tao, Y. Review: Structural Insight into Insect Viruses.  Nat. Struct. Biol., 6 1999: 717-719

Tao, Y., Olson, N.H., Xu, W., Anderson, D.L., Rossmann, M.G., and Baker, T.S., Assembly of a Tailed Bacterial Virus and its Genome Release Studied in Three Dimensions.  Cell, 95 1998: 431-437

Guu TS, Zheng W, Tao YJ. Bunyavirus: structure and replication. .  Adv Exp Med Biol., 726 2012: 245-66

McDonald, S.M., Tao, Y.J., Patton, J.T. The Ins and Outs of the Four-Tunneled RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerases.  Curr Opin Struct Biol., 19 December 2009: 775-782

Jan E, Tao YJ. 2015. Editorial overview: Virus structure and expression.  Curr Opin Virol. Jun;12:ix-x. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2015.05.005. Epub 2015 Jun 6

Tao Lab Website

  • B.S. Biology (1992) Peking University
  • Ph.D. Biological Sciences (1999) Purdue University
  • Department of BioSciences
  • Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering
Research Areas
  • Structural Biology; Virology; Influenza viruses; Birnaviruses; RNA viruses
Professional Experience
  • Associate Professor
    Rice University
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Harvard University
  • Assistant Professor
    Rice University
Contact Information
Email: ytao@rice.edu
Phone: 713-348-4910
Office: Keck Hall 326,