Alan  Rein, Ph.D.

Alan Rein, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute


Dr. Rein is a recognized expert in virus assembly, particularly with respect to human and murine retroviruses.  Other research interests include structure-function relationships in viral RNA and cellular defense mechanisms against retroviruses.  As Head of the Retrovirus Assembly Section, he studies molecular mechanisms of retroviral replication and pathogenesis, with the hope that this understanding will lead to new methods of combatting retrovirus-induced disease, including AIDS. 

Areas of Expertise

Virus Assembly
HIV Replication


Selected Key Publications

Restriction of Influenza A Virus by SERINC5.

Lai KK, Munro JB, Shi G, Majdoul S, Compton AA, Rein A.
mBio. 6: e0292322, 2022. [ Journal Article ]

Dissection of specific binding of HIV-1 Gag to the “packaging signal” in viral RNA

Comas-Garcia M, Datta SAK, Baker L, Varma R, Gudla PR, Rein A
eLife. 6: e27055, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

An unusual topological structure of the HIV-1 Rev response element

Fang X, Wang J, O’Carroll IP, Mitchell M, Zuo X, Wang Y, Yu P, Liu Y, Rausch JW, Dyba MA, Kjems J, Schwieters CD, Seifert S, Winans RE, Watts NR, Stahl SJ, Wingfield PT, Byrd RA, Le Grice SFJ, Rein A, Wang Y-X.
Cell. 155: 594-605, 2013. [ Journal Article ]

Modulation of HIV-like particle assembly in vitro by inositol phosphates

Campbell S, Fisher RJ, Towler EM, Fox S, Issaq HJ, Wolfe T, Phillips LR, Rein A.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 98: 10875-10879, 2001. [ Journal Article ]

Point mutants of Moloney murine leukemia virus that fail to package viral RNA: Evidence for specific RNA recognition by a "zinc finger-like" protein sequence

Gorelick RJ, Henderson LE, Hanser JP, Rein A.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 85: 8420-8424, 1988. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

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Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Banhi Biswas, Ph.D.
Research Biologist
Demetria P. Harvin, B.A.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Kin Kui (Peter) Lai, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Constance Rink, Ph.D.


NIH Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship

Tomas Kroupa (postdoctoral fellow, 2017-2021) received an Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship (IARF) award in 2020 to support his research project on "Kinetics of Specific and Nonspecific Interactions of HIV-1 Gag with RNA."  Awarded by the Office of AIDS Research, Office of Intramural Research, and Office of Intramural Research & Training in the National Institutes of Health, IARFs include full stipend support to successful candidates who demonstrate outstanding scientific potential through both an imaginative and thoughtful research plan and a well thought out career development plan.

Journal of Biological Chemistry Editors’ Pick: Nucleic Acid-Induced Dimerization of HIV-1 Gag Protein

A publication resulting from a collaboration between the Rein lab and that of Peter Schuck, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (Zhao et al., J. Biol. Chem. 294: 16480, 2019) was selected as an Editors’ Pick in the November 8, 2019 issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Journal of Virology Spotlight Feature: Functional Contributions of Individual Domains in the HIV-1 Rev Response Element

A publication by the Rein lab on “Contributions of individual domains to function of the HIV-1 Rev response element” (O'Carroll et al., J. Virol. 91:e00746-17, 2017) was selected as a Spotlight feature in the November 2017 issue of Journal of Virology.

Alan Rein Presented Keynote Lecture at 2016 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Retroviruses Meeting

The keynote lecture by Alan Rein ("Retroviruses: Some Perspectives") at the 2016 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Retroviruses Meeting is featured on The Leading Strand, a website spotlighting the keynote presentations at CSHL meetings.  Dr. Rein’s lecture is also publicly available through YouTube and Apple's iTunes University.

Travel Awards, Think Tank Meetings

Mauricio Comas-Garcia (postdoctoral fellow, 2013-2018) received $1,000 travel awards for presenting one of the two most meritorious talks by NCI fellows at the 2017 and 2016 HIV DRP Think Tank Meetings.

Ina O'Carroll (research fellow, 2014-2015) received a travel award for one of the best presentations at the Center for Cancer Research Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting in 2015.

Alan Rein Elected to American Academy of Microbiology

Alan Rein was elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) in 2014.  AAM Fellows are recognized as distinguished scientists who are "elected through a highly selective, annual, peer review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology....Each elected Fellow has built an exemplary career in basic and applied research, teaching, clinical and public health, industry or government service."

NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence

Ina O’Carroll (postdoctoral fellow, 2009-2014) received an NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence in 2013 for travel to attend and present her work at a scientific meeting in the U.S.  This award, which acknowledges outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows, is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, and Office of Intramural Training and Education and is funded by the Scientific Directors.  FARE awards are based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality and presentation of the abstracts.

Alan Rein Received NIH Director's Award

NIH Intramural Research Program XMRV Working Group

Presentations at the 2009 Cold Spring Harbor Retroviruses Meeting in May 2009 suggested that xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), a novel gammaretrovirus with a potential link to prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome, might be present in ~3% of the U.S. population, raising both public health issues and concern for contamination of the nation's blood supply.  In response, the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Cancer Institute immediately formed a multidisciplinary XMRV Working Group and charged the group with developing, implementing, and making available diagnostic reagents for rapid, accurate, and reliable detection of XMRV nucleic acids, antigens, and infectious virus.  The group developed an action plan, and within three months, the SAIC Protein Expression Laboratory reported construction of 40 recombinant clones expressing all XMRV antigens and their subsequent purification for use as immunological reagents in December 2009.  Importantly, these reagents were also made available (through the NIH AIDS Reagent Program) to the extramural community to accelerate XMRV research and allow sharing of a common set of reagents.  A parallel effort in the HIV Dynamics and Replication Program resulted in establishing an assay to quantify XMRV DNA (from tissue) and RNA (from plasma) in November and December 2009, respectively.  Since ultrasensitive XMRV nucleic acid detection methods were not available, this required in-house development and standardization, using the existing manpower and financial resources of the HIV DRP.  In response to the need for "authentic" viral antigens for the development and standardization of immunological reagents by the Viral Technology Laboratory, the large-scale virus culture facilities of the SAIC AIDS and Cancer Virus Program were recruited for XMRV production.  Finally, researchers of the HIV DRP developed the DERSE indicator cell line for detection of infectious XMRV.  In contrast to traditional virological methods, this novel assay reduced the time needed to detect low levels of replicating XMRV in cell culture from months to a matter of weeks.

Subsequent studies have demonstrated that XMRV does not pose a threat to public health.  Despite this, events between October 2009 and October 2010 highlighted the ability of dedicated scientists of the IRP to respond very quickly to a potential public health crisis by assembling a multidisciplinary team with a single goal of rapidly preparing, standardizing, and making available reagents for diagnostic virology.  In every instance, reagents were prepared with existing manpower and resources, and without a serious interruption in the normal work flow or productivity of each group involved.  Their non-XMRV work continued unimpeded.  The success of this effort relied on close cooperation between all groups to establish and meet important deadlines.  In addition to their individual contributions, the XMRV Working Group made reagents and technologies available to the general scientific community, and performed additional diagnostic analysis of samples supplied by federal, intramural, and extramural laboratories.  In February 2012, the external XMRV Working Group (the Blood XMRV Scientific Research Working Group) received a Special Recognition Award from the Department of Health and Human Services, recognizing their exemplary team performance for "evaluating XMRV, a potential threat to the blood supply."  In July 2012, members of the IRP XMRV Working Group were similarly recognized for their outstanding work by receiving the NIH Director's Award.

The IRP XMRV Working Group included:

Stuart Le Grice, HIV DRP
Alan Rein, HIV DRP
Vineet KewalRamani, HIV DRP
Mary Kearney, HIV DRP
James Hartley, Protein Expression Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick
Rachel Bagni, Viral Technology Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick
Jeffrey Lifson, AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, SAIC-Frederick

Journal of Virology Spotlight Feature: Inositol Phosphates Modulate the Nucleic Acid Chaperone Activity of Gag

A publication by the Rein lab showing that “Matrix domain modulates HIV-1 Gag's nucleic acid chaperone activity via inositol phosphate binding” (Jones et al., J. Virol. 85:1594-603, 2011) was selected as a Spotlight feature in the February 2011 issue of Journal of Virology.

Alan Rein Featured on “This Week in Virology” Podcast

Alan Rein was featured as the guest investigator on the December 26, 2010 podcast of "This Week in Virology" to discuss retroviruses and the newly reported virus XMRV.


Yadvinder Ahi, Ph.D.
Research Biologist
Aamir Akram, M.D.
Summer Student
Amanda Aloia, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Laura Baker, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Stephen J. Campbell, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Mauricio Comas-Garcia, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Rachael Crist, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Audrey Denman, M.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Anwesha Dey, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Fatema Fareh
Summer Student
Suzelle Fiedler, M.S.
Special Volunteer
Valerie Goldschmidt, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Janice Guynn, P.A.
Summer Student
Marwan Hawari, B.S.
Summer Student
Bridget Heeney, M.B.A.
Summer Student
Catherine Hibbert, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Sangeeth Kolluri, D.O.
Summer Student
Tomas Kroupa, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Shilpa Kulkarni, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Bowen Lian, B.S.
Summer Student
Tania Lombo-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Joseph Manzi, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Madison Martin, B.S.
Summer Student
Jane Mirro, M.S.
Research Biologist
Laura Minang, M.S.
Summer Student
Pablo Murcia, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Guest Researcher
Delphine Muriaux, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Smita Nair, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Jayashree Nandi, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Ayodeji Obayomi
Summer Student
Ina O'Carroll, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Masamichi Oshima, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Umar Qadri, M.D.
Summer Student
Edric Ramirez-Valdez, B.Sc.
Summer Student
Samuel J. Rulli, Jr., Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Sofia Ryan, B.A.
Summer Student
Silvia Sanchez-Martinez, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Lakew Temeselew, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Yashna Thappeta, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Brigette Wang
Special Volunteer
Diborah Yimer, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Shu Zhang, M.S.
Predoctoral Fellow