Alexander G. Pletnev, Ph.D., D.Sci.

Senior Investigator

Neurotropic Flaviviruses Section


Building 33, Room 3W10A
33 North Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

Flaviviruses, such as mosquito-borne West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, and Japanese encephalitis viruses and tick-borne encephalitis viruses, are important neurotropic human pathogens, causing a devastating and often fatal neuroinfection. During the past two decades, both mosquito- and tick-borne flaviviruses have emerged in new geographic areas of the world where they were not previously endemic and have caused outbreaks of diseases in humans and domestic animals. Despite many attempts, licensed, safe, and effective live virus vaccines against these neurotropic viruses are not available.

The main goal and objective of our research projects is the development of safe live, attenuated virus vaccines that will be effective in preventing diseases caused by the highly virulent neurotropic viruses of the Flaviviridae family: tick-borne encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, and St. Louis encephalitis virus.


Dr. Pletnev earned his Ph.D. in 1983 in chemistry from the Russian Academy of Sciences, studying RNA polymerases. Following postdoctoral research at the Novosibirsk Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, he served as chief of the laboratory of radiochemistry and the laboratory of molecular virology from 1984 to 1993 and became a professor in molecular biology in 1993. In 1990, he received his doctorate of sciences degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He joined the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in 1993 as a visiting scientist and became a senior investigator in 2005.

Selected Publications

  1. Maximova OA, Sturdevant DE, Kash JC, Kanakabandi K, Xiao Y, Minai M, Moore IN, Taubenberger J, Martens C, Cohen JI, Pletnev AG. Virus infection of the CNS disrupts the immune-neural-synaptic axis via induction of pleiotropic gene regulation of host responses. Elife. 2021;10.

  2. Tsetsarkin KA, Maximova OA, Liu G, Kenney H, Teterina N, Bloom ME, Grabowski JM, Mlera L, Nagata BM, Moore I, Martens C, Amaro-Carambot E, Lamirande EW, Whitehead SS, Pletnev AG. Routes of Zika virus dissemination in the testis and epididymis of immunodeficient mice. Nat Commun. 2018;9(1):5350.

  3. Pletnev AG, Maximova OA, Liu G, Kenney H, Nagata BM, Zagorodnyaya T, Moore I, Chumakov K, Tsetsarkin KA. Epididymal epithelium propels early sexual transmission of Zika virus in the absence of interferon signaling. Nat Commun. 2021;12(1):2469.

  4. Tsetsarkin KA, Acklin JA, Liu G, Kenney H, Teterina NL, Pletnev AG, Lim JK. Zika virus tropism during early infection of the testicular interstitium and its role in viral pathogenesis in the testes. PLoS Pathog. 2020;16(7):e1008601.

  5. Tsetsarkin KA, Maximova OA, Liu G, Kenney H, Teterina NL, Pletnev AG. Stable and Highly Immunogenic MicroRNA-Targeted Single-Dose Live Attenuated Vaccine Candidate against Tick-Borne Encephalitis Constructed Using Genetic Backbone of Langat Virus. mBio. 2019;10(2).

This page was last updated on August 17th, 2021