Thomas M. Petro, PhD

Dr. Petro


Department of Oral Biology
Nebraska Center for Cellular Signaling
Nebraska Center for Virology
Bioregulation Group

Contact Information
Room 1467, UNMC College of Dentistry
4000 East Campus Loop South
Lincoln, NE 68583-0740


Teaching Responsibilities 
  • Course Director, Introduction to Immunology (ORBI 325)
  • Course Instructor, A Review of Biomedical/Dental Sciences (ORBI 471)
  • Course Director, Introduction to Immunology (ORBI 514)
  • Course Director, Oral and Medical Microbiology (ORBI 525)
  • Course Instructor, A Review of Biomedical Sciences (ORBI 571)
  • Course Director, Immunology and Microbiology of Oral Infectious Disease (OBIO 866)
Research Interests 
  • Using molecular immunobiology approaches to explore intrinsic pathways to or novel therapeutics for expression and control of cytokines to prevent chronic viral infections, autoimmune diseases, and/or inflammatory diseases. 
  • Read more about Dr. Petro's research in Immunology and Inflammation
  • NIH/CoBRE, UNMC Nebraska Center for Cell Signaling, “Interferon Response Factor-3 and the Immune Response to Melanoma,” Principal Investigator, $100,000, 5/1/2014 - 6/30/2017
  • NIH through UN-L Nebraska Center for Virology, “Evaluation of Chloroviruses as Associated Agents of Mental Disorders,” Co-Investigator, $99,800, 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2016
  • Nebraska Center for Virology, "IRF3 and the Control of Persistent Viral Infections." Co-investigator with Principal Investigator Deborah M. Brown, Ph. D. $100,000, 7/1/2011 – 6/30/2013
  • PP1423 National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Effect of resveratrol on development of EAE." Principal Investigatory, Funded $44, 000. 7/1/2007 - 6/30/2008
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Role of IL-12 gene expression in virus-induced encephalomyelitis." Principal investigator, $209,708. 10/1/2002 - 9/1/2005
  • P20 RR18759 National Institutes of Health (15% effort) Nebraska Center for Cellular Signaling (K. R. Johnson, PI) 9/19/2003 -6/30/2013
Selected Publications 
  • Annamalai, A.S., Pattnaik, A., Sahoo, B.R., Muthukrishnan, E., Natarajan, S.K., Steffen, D., Vu, H.L.X., Delhon, G., Osorio, F.A., Petro, T.M., Xiang, S.H., and Pattnaik, A.K.  Zika virus encoding non-glycosylated envelope protein is attenuated and defective in neuroinvasion. Journal of Virology JVI.01348-17, 2017. 
  • Guinn, Z., Brown, D.M., Petro, T.M. Activation of IRF3 contributes to IFN-γ and ISG54 expression during the immune responses to B16F10 tumor growth. International Immunopharmacol 50:121-129, 2017. 
  • Petro, MS, Agarkova, I.V., Petro T.M. Effect of Chlorovirus ATCV-1 infection on behavior of C57Bl/6 mice. J Neuroimmunol 15, 97:46-55, 2016 Aug.
  • Guinn Z, Lampe AT, Brown DM, Petro TM. Significant role for IRF3 in both T cell and APC effector functions during T cell responses. Cell Immunol 2016 Dec, 310:141-149.
  • Petro, T.M., Agarkova, I.V., Zhou,Y., Yolken, R.H., Van Etten, J.L., Dunigan, D.D. Response of mammalian macrophages to challenge with the Chlorovirus ATCV-1. J of Virol 89(23):12096-107. 2015.
  • Hargarten, J.C., Moore, T.C., Petro, T.M., Nickerson, K.W., Atkin, A.L. Candida albicans quorum sensing molecules stimulate mouse macrophage migration. Infect Immun 83(10):3857-64, 2015.
  • Moore T.C., Vogel A.J., Petro, T.M., Brown, D.M. IRF3 deficiency impacts granzyme B expression and maintenance of memory T cell function in response to viral infection. Microbes Infect 17(6):426-39, 2015..
  • Moore, T.C., Kumm, P.M., Brown, D.M., and Petro, T.M. Interferon response factor 3 is crucial to poly-I:C induced NK cell activity and control of B16 melanoma growth. Cancer Lett 2014 Apr 28, 346(1):122-8.
  • Moore, T.C., Cody, L., Kumm, P.M., Brown, D.M., and Petro, T.M. IRF3 helps control acute TMEV infection through IL-6 expression but contributes to acute hippocampus damage following TMEV infection. Virus Res 178(2):226-33, 2013.
  • Moore, T.C. and Petro, T.M. IRF3 and ERK MAP-kinases control nitric oxide production from macrophages in response to poly-I:C. FEBS Lett 587(18):3014-20, 2013.
  • Moore, T.C., Bush, K.L., Cody, L., Brown, D.M., Petro, T.M. Control of early Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus replication in macrophages by interleukin-6 occurs in conjunction with STAT1 activation and nitric oxide production. J Virol 86(19):10841-51, 2012.
  • Moore, T.C., Al-Salleeh, F.M., Brown, D.M., and Petro, T.M. IRF3 polymorphisms induce different innate anti-Theiler’s virus immune responses in RAW264.7 macrophages. Virology 418(1):40-8, 2011. 
  • Petro, T.M. Regulatory role of resveratrol on Th17 in autoimmune disease,  International immunopharmacology 11(3):310-8, 2011.
  • Ghosh, S., Howe, N., Volk, K., Tati, S. Nickerson, K.W., Petro, T.M. Candida albicans through beta-glucan and farnesol stimulates expression of Th17-inducing, inflammatory, and regulatory cytokines in the murine RAW264.7 macrophage cell line. FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology 60:63-73, 2010.
  • Ghosh, S., Navarathna, D.H., Roberts, D.D., Cooper, J.T., Atkin, A.L., Petro, T.M., Nickerson, K.W. Arginine-induced germ tube formation in Candida albicans is essential for escape from murine macrophage line RAW 264.7. Infect Immun 77(4):1596-605, 2009.
  • Imler, T.J. and Petro, T.M. Decreased Severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis during resveratrol administration is associated with increased IL-17+IL10+ T cells, CD4- IFN-γ+ cells, and decreased macrophage IL-6 expression. International Immunopharmacology 9(1):134-43. 2009.
  • Al-Salleeh, F.M. and Petro, T.M. Promoter analysis reveals critical roles for IRF-3, SMAD-3 and ATF-2 in expression of IL-23 p19 in RAW264.7 cells. J. Immunol 181:4523-4533, 2008.
  • Al-Salleeh, F., Beatty, M.W., Reinhardt, R.A., Petro, T.M., Crouch, L. Human osteogenic protein-1 induces osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells harvested from mice. Arch Oral Biol 53:928-936 2008.
  • Al-Salleeh, F.M. and Petro,T.M. TLR3 and TLR7 are involved in expression of IL-23 subunits while TLR3 but not TLR7 is involved in expression of IFN-beta by Theiler's virus-infected RAW264.7 cells. Microbes and Infection 9(11):1384-92, 2007.
  • Hause, L., Al-Salleeh, F.M. and Petro, T.M. Expression of IL-27 p28 by Theiler's virus-infected macrophages depends on TLR3 and TLR7 activation of JNK-MAP-kinases. Antiviral Research 76(2):159-167, 2007.
  • Navarathna, DH, Nickerson, KW, Duhamel, GE, Jerrels, TR, Petro, TM. Exogenous farnesol interferes with the normal progression of cytokine expression during candidiasis in a mouse model. Infect Immun 75(8):4006-11, 2007.
  • Kollet, J.I. and Petro, T.M. IRF-1 and NF-β p50/cRel bind to distinct regions of the proximal murine IL-12 p35 promoter during costimulation with IFN- â and LPS. Molecular Immunology 43:623-633, 2006.
  • Dahlberg, A., Auble, M.R., and Petro, T.M. Reduced expression of IL-12 p35 by SJL/J macrophages responding to Theiler's virus infection is associated with constitutive activation of IRF-3. Virology. 353:422-432, 2006.
  • Petro, T.M. ERK-MAP-kinases differentially regulate expression of IL-23 p19 compared with p40 and IFN-beta in Theiler's virus-infected RAW264.7 cells. Immunol Lett 15:97(1):47-53, Feb 2005.
  • Petro, T.M. Disparate expression of IL-12 by SJL/J and B10.S macrophages during Theiler's virus infection is associated with activity of TLR7 and Mitogen-activated protein kinases. Microbes and Infection 7:224-232, 2005.
  • Petro, T.M. Modulation of IL-12 p35 and p40 promoter activity by smokeless tobacco extract is associated with an effect upon activation of NF-kB but not IRF transcription factors. International Immunopharmacology 3:735-745, 2003.
  • Vaidyanathan, H., Zhou, Y., Petro, T.M., and Schwartzbach, S.D. Intracellular localization of the p35 subunit of murine IL-12. Cytokine 21:120-128, 2003.
  • Petro, T.M., Anderson, L.L., Gowler, J.S., Liu, X., and Schwartzbach, S.D. Smokeless tobacco extract decreases IL-12 production from LPS-stimulated but decreases IL-12 from IFN-gamma-stimulated macrophages. International Immunopharmacology 2:345-355, 2002.
  • Vaidyanathan, H., Gentry, J.D., Weatherman, A., Schwartzbach, S.D. and Petro, T.M. Differential response of the murine IL-12 p35 gene to lipopolysaccharide compared with interferon-gamma and CD40 ligation. Cytokine 16:1-9, 2001.
  • Kollet, J., Witek, C., Gentry, J.D., Liu, X., Schwartzbach, S.D., and Petro, T.M. Deletional analysis of the murine IL-12 p35 promoter comparing interferon-ã and LPS stimulation. J Immunol 167:5653-5663, 2001.
  • Jana, M., Liu, X., Koka, S., Ghosh, S., Petro, T.M., and Pahan, K. Ligation of CD40 stimulates the induction of nitric oxide synthase in microglial cells. J Biol Chem 276:44527-44533, 2001.
  • Pahan, K., Sheikh, F.G., Liu, X., Hilger, S., McKinney, M., and Petro, T.M. Induction of nitric oxide synthase and activation of NF-kB by interleukin-12 p40 in microglial cells. J Biol Chem 276:7899-7905, 2001.