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1.  Exploitation of the Complement System by Oncogenic Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus for Cell Survival and Persistent Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004412.
During evolution, herpesviruses have developed numerous, and often very ingenious, strategies to counteract efficient host immunity. Specifically, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) eludes host immunity by undergoing a dormant stage, called latency wherein it expresses a minimal number of viral proteins to evade host immune activation. Here, we show that during latency, KSHV hijacks the complement pathway to promote cell survival. We detected strong deposition of complement membrane attack complex C5b-9 and the complement component C3 activated product C3b on Kaposi's sarcoma spindle tumor cells, and on human endothelial cells latently infected by KSHV, TIME-KSHV and TIVE-LTC, but not on their respective uninfected control cells, TIME and TIVE. We further showed that complement activation in latently KSHV-infected cells was mediated by the alternative complement pathway through down-regulation of cell surface complement regulatory proteins CD55 and CD59. Interestingly, complement activation caused minimal cell death but promoted the survival of latently KSHV-infected cells grown in medium depleted of growth factors. We found that complement activation increased STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation (Y705) of KSHV-infected cells, which was required for the enhanced cell survival. Furthermore, overexpression of either CD55 or CD59 in latently KSHV-infected cells was sufficient to inhibit complement activation, prevent STAT3 Y705 phosphorylation and abolish the enhanced survival of cells cultured in growth factor-depleted condition. Together, these results demonstrate a novel mechanism by which an oncogenic virus subverts and exploits the host innate immune system to promote viral persistent infection.
Author Summary
The complement system is an important part of the innate immune system. Pathogens have evolved diverse strategies to evade host immune responses including attack of the complement system. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is associated with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma and a subset of multicentric Castleman's disease. KSHV encodes a number of viral proteins to counter host immune responses during productive lytic replication. On the other hand, KSHV utilizes latency as a default replication program during which it expresses a minimal number of proteins to evade host immune detection. Thus, the complement system is expected to be silent during KSHV latency. In this study, we have found that the complement system is unexpectedly activated in latently KSHV-infected endothelial cells and in KS tumor cells wherein KSHV downregulates the expression of CD55 and CD59 complement regulatory proteins. More interestingly, most of latently KSHV-infected cells not only are resistant to complement-mediated cell killing, but also acquire survival advantage by inducing STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation. These results demonstrate a novel mechanism by which an oncogenic virus exploits the host innate immune system to promote viral persistent infection.
PMCID: PMC4177982  PMID: 25254972
2.  Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus MicroRNAs Induce Metabolic Transformation of Infected Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004400.
Altered cell metabolism is inherently connected with pathological conditions including cancer and viral infections. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). KS tumour cells display features of lymphatic endothelial differentiation and in their vast majority are latently infected with KSHV, while a small number are lytically infected, producing virions. Latently infected cells express only a subset of viral genes, mainly located within the latency-associated region, among them 12 microRNAs. Notably, the metabolic properties of KSHV-infected cells closely resemble the metabolic hallmarks of cancer cells. However, how and why KSHV alters host cell metabolism remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated the effect of KSHV infection on the metabolic profile of primary dermal microvascular lymphatic endothelial cells (LEC) and the functional relevance of this effect. We found that the KSHV microRNAs within the oncogenic cluster collaborate to decrease mitochondria biogenesis and to induce aerobic glycolysis in infected cells. KSHV microRNAs expression decreases oxygen consumption, increase lactate secretion and glucose uptake, stabilize HIF1α and decreases mitochondria copy number. Importantly this metabolic shift is important for latency maintenance and provides a growth advantage. Mechanistically we show that KSHV alters host cell energy metabolism through microRNA-mediated down regulation of EGLN2 and HSPA9. Our data suggest that the KSHV microRNAs induce a metabolic transformation by concurrent regulation of two independent pathways; transcriptional reprograming via HIF1 activation and reduction of mitochondria biogenesis through down regulation of the mitochondrial import machinery. These findings implicate viral microRNAs in the regulation of the cellular metabolism and highlight new potential avenues to inhibit viral latency.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is the most common cancer in HIV-infected untreated individuals. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the infectious cause of this neoplasm. The discovery of KSHV and its oncogenic enigmas has enlightened many fields of tumor biology and viral oncogenesis. The metabolic properties of KS significantly differ from those of normal cells and resemble cancer cells in general, but the mechanisms employed by KSHV to alter host cell metabolism are poorly understood. Our work demonstrates that KSHV microRNAs can alter cell metabolism through coherent control of independent pathways, a key feature of microRNA-mediated control of cellular functions. This provides a fresh perspective for how microRNA-encoding pathogens shape a cell's metabolism to create an optimal environment for their survival and/or replication. Indeed, we show that, in the case of KSHV, viral microRNA-driven regulation of metabolism is important for viral latency. These findings will evoke new and exciting approaches to prevent KSHV from establishing latency and later on KS.
PMCID: PMC4177984  PMID: 25255370
3.  A Gammaherpesvirus Cooperates with Interferon-alpha/beta-Induced IRF2 to Halt Viral Replication, Control Reactivation, and Minimize Host Lethality 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002371.
The gammaherpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), establish latency in memory B lymphocytes and promote lymphoproliferative disease in immunocompromised individuals. The precise immune mechanisms that prevent gammaherpesvirus reactivation and tumorigenesis are poorly defined. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) is closely related to EBV and KSHV, and type I (alpha/beta) interferons (IFNαβ) regulate MHV68 reactivation from both B cells and macrophages by unknown mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that IFNβ is highly upregulated during latent infection, in the absence of detectable MHV68 replication. We identify an interferon-stimulated response element (ISRE) in the MHV68 M2 gene promoter that is bound by the IFNαβ-induced transcriptional repressor IRF2 during latency in vivo. The M2 protein regulates B cell signaling to promote establishment of latency and reactivation. Virus lacking the M2 ISRE (ISREΔ) overexpresses M2 mRNA and displays uncontrolled acute replication in vivo, higher latent viral load, and aberrantly high reactivation from latency. These phenotypes of the ISREΔ mutant are B-cell-specific, require IRF2, and correlate with a significant increase in virulence in a model of acute viral pneumonia. We therefore identify a mechanism by which a gammaherpesvirus subverts host IFNαβ signaling in a surprisingly cooperative manner, to directly repress viral replication and reactivation and enforce latency, thereby minimizing acute host disease. Since we find ISREs 5′ to the major lymphocyte latency genes of multiple rodent, primate, and human gammaherpesviruses, we propose that cooperative subversion of IFNαβ-induced IRFs to promote latent infection is an ancient strategy that ensures a stable, minimally-pathogenic virus-host relationship.
Author Summary
Herpesviruses establish life-long infection in a non-replicating state termed latency. During immune compromise, herpesviruses can reactivate and cause severe disease, including cancer. We investigated mechanisms by which interferons alpha/beta (IFNαβ), a family of antiviral immune genes, inhibit reactivation of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68). MHV68 is related to Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, human gammaherpesviruses associated with multiple cancers. We made the surprising discovery that during latency, MHV68 cooperates with IFNαβ to inhibit its own replication. Specifically, a viral gene required for reactivation has evolved to be directly repressed by an IFNαβ-induced transcription factor, IRF2. Once virus replication has triggered sufficient IFNαβ production, expression of this viral gene is reduced and reactivation efficiency decreases. This strategy safeguards the health of the host, since a mutant virus that cannot respond to IRF2 replicates uncontrollably and is more virulent. Viral sensing of IFNαβ is also potentially subversive, since it allows MHV68 to detect periods of localized immune quiescence during which it can reactivate and spread to a new host. Thus, we highlight a novel path of virus-host coevolution, toward cooperative subversion of the antiviral immune response. These observations may illuminate new targets for drugs to inhibit herpesvirus reactivation or eliminate herpesvirus-associated tumors.
PMCID: PMC3219715  PMID: 22114555
4.  Enhancement of Autophagy during Lytic Replication by the Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Replication and Transcription Activator ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(15):7448-7458.
Autophagy is one of two major degradation systems in eukaryotic cells. The degradation mechanism of autophagy is required to maintain the balance between the biosynthetic and catabolic processes and also contributes to defense against invading pathogens. Recent studies suggest that a number of viruses can evade or subvert the host cell autophagic pathway to enhance their own replication. Here, we investigated the effect of autophagy on the KSHV (Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus) life cycle. We found that the inhibition of autophagy reduces KSHV lytic reactivation from latency, and an enhancement of autophagy can be detected during KSHV lytic replication. In addition, RTA (replication and transcription activator), an essential viral protein for KSHV lytic reactivation, is able to enhance the autophagic process, leading to an increase in the number of autophagic vacuoles, an increase in the level of the lipidated LC3 protein, and the formation of autolysosomes. Moreover, the inhibition of autophagy affects RTA-mediated lytic gene expression and viral DNA replication. These results suggest that RTA increases autophagy activation to facilitate KSHV lytic replication. This is the first report demonstrating that autophagy is involved in the lytic reactivation of KSHV.
PMCID: PMC2897602  PMID: 20484505
5.  Reactive Oxygen Species Hydrogen Peroxide Mediates Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Reactivation from Latency 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(5):e1002054.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes a latent infection in the host following an acute infection. Reactivation from latency contributes to the development of KSHV-induced malignancies, which include Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), the most common cancer in untreated AIDS patients, primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease. However, the physiological cues that trigger KSHV reactivation remain unclear. Here, we show that the reactive oxygen species (ROS) hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) induces KSHV reactivation from latency through both autocrine and paracrine signaling. Furthermore, KSHV spontaneous lytic replication, and KSHV reactivation from latency induced by oxidative stress, hypoxia, and proinflammatory and proangiogenic cytokines are mediated by H2O2. Mechanistically, H2O2 induction of KSHV reactivation depends on the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK1/2, JNK, and p38 pathways. Significantly, H2O2 scavengers N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), catalase and glutathione inhibit KSHV lytic replication in culture. In a mouse model of KSHV-induced lymphoma, NAC effectively inhibits KSHV lytic replication and significantly prolongs the lifespan of the mice. These results directly relate KSHV reactivation to oxidative stress and inflammation, which are physiological hallmarks of KS patients. The discovery of this novel mechanism of KSHV reactivation indicates that antioxidants and anti-inflammation drugs could be promising preventive and therapeutic agents for effectively targeting KSHV replication and KSHV-related malignancies.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiologic agent of all clinical forms of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and several other malignancies. The life cycle of KSHV consists of latent and lytic phases. While establishment of viral latency is essential for KSHV to evade host immune surveillances, viral lytic replication promotes KSHV-induced malignancies. In this study, we show that the reactive oxygen species (ROS) hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) induces KSHV reactivation from latency. Furthermore, induction of KSHV reactivation by oxidative stress, hypoxia, and proinflammatory and proangiogenic cytokines, which are physiological hallmarks in all clinical forms of KS patients, is mediated by H2O2. Significantly, antioxidants inhibit H2O2-induced KSHV lytic replication in culture and in a mouse model of KSHV-induced lymphoma. These results show that ROS is likely an important physiological cue that triggers KSHV replication. The discovery of this novel mechanism of KSHV reactivation indicates that antioxidants and anti-inflammation drugs might be promising preventive and therapeutic agents for effectively targeting KSHV replication and KSHV-related malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3098240  PMID: 21625536
6.  Modulation of the Autophagy Pathway by Human Tumor Viruses 
Seminars in cancer biology  2013;23(5):323-328.
Autophagy is a highly conserved and regulated process in eukaryotic cells by which components of the cytoplasm, such as damaged organelles and foreign pathogens, become enveloped into double-membrane autophagosome vesicles that fuse with the lysosome for degradation. Viruses are adept at subverting host cellular pathways for their replication and survival. The human tumor viruses, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and Hepatitis C virus (HCV), have evolved novel ways of modulating autophagy during productive and latent stages of the virus life cycle. This review will discuss how the autophagy pathway becomes activated upon viral infection and the role of viral proteins in regulating the autophagy pathway. Specifically, we will examine how virus-encoded homologs of autophagy proteins evade autophagy-mediated degradation by blocking the induction, elongation, or maturation steps in the autophagy pathway. We will also discuss how certain viruses enhance autophagy induction or usurp autophagic machinery for their own replication. A comprehensive understanding of the autophagic response to tumor viruses may enable the discovery of novel antiviral and/or anticancer drug therapies.
PMCID: PMC3791178  PMID: 23727156
autophagy; human tumor viruses; oncogene-induced senescence (OIS); unfolded protein response (UPR)
7.  Nucleophosmin Phosphorylation by v-Cyclin-CDK6 Controls KSHV Latency 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000818.
Nucleophosmin (NPM) is a multifunctional nuclear phosphoprotein and a histone chaperone implicated in chromatin organization and transcription control. Oncogenic Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman disease (MCD). In the infected host cell KSHV displays two modes of infection, the latency and productive viral replication phases, involving extensive viral DNA replication and gene expression. A sustained balance between latency and reactivation to the productive infection state is essential for viral persistence and KSHV pathogenesis. Our study demonstrates that the KSHV v-cyclin and cellular CDK6 kinase phosphorylate NPM on threonine 199 (Thr199) in de novo and naturally KSHV-infected cells and that NPM is phosphorylated to the same site in primary KS tumors. Furthermore, v-cyclin-mediated phosphorylation of NPM engages the interaction between NPM and the latency-associated nuclear antigen LANA, a KSHV-encoded repressor of viral lytic replication. Strikingly, depletion of NPM in PEL cells leads to viral reactivation, and production of new infectious virus particles. Moreover, the phosphorylation of NPM negatively correlates with the level of spontaneous viral reactivation in PEL cells. This work demonstrates that NPM is a critical regulator of KSHV latency via functional interactions with v-cyclin and LANA.
Author Summary
Latency is the predominant mode of viral persistence in KS and PEL tumors, and has a fundamental impact on KSHV tumorigenesis. Establishment and maintenance of latency involves a number of viral and cellular factors. This study provides a novel functional link between LANA and v-cyclin by showing that phosphorylation of nucleophosmin (NPM) by the v-cyclin-CDK6 kinase complex supports its interaction with LANA, and thus enables the transcriptional silencing of KSHV lytic genes needed for latency. These findings indicate that KSHV has evolved mechanisms to utilize host proteins for maintaining the latency, and underscores the role of NPM as a regulator of not only mammalian transcription but also of viral transcription. Taken together, our data suggests that a cellular protein, NPM, is a critical factor for the latency of this oncogenic human virus, and may thus represent an attractive novel target for intervention.
PMCID: PMC2841626  PMID: 20333249
8.  Activation of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) by Inhibitors of Class III Histone Deacetylases: Identification of Sirtuin 1 as a Regulator of the KSHV Life Cycle 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(11):6355-6367.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes persistent latent infection in immunocompetent hosts. Disruption of KSHV latency results in viral lytic replication, which promotes the development of KSHV-related malignancies in immunocompromised individuals. While inhibitors of classes I and II histone deacetylases (HDACs) potently reactivate KSHV from latency, the role of class III HDAC sirtuins (SIRTs) in KSHV latency remains unclear. Here, we examined the effects of inhibitors of SIRTs, nicotinamide (NAM) and sirtinol, on KSHV reactivation from latency. Treatment of latently KSHV-infected cells with NAM or sirtinol induced transcripts and proteins of the master lytic transactivator RTA (ORF50), early lytic genes ORF57 and ORF59, and late lytic gene ORF65 and increased the production of infectious virions. NAM increased the acetylation of histones H3 and H4 as well as the level of the active histone H3 trimethyl Lys4 (H3K4me3) mark but decreased the level of the repressive histone H3 trimethyl Lys27 (H3K27me3) mark in the RTA promoter. Consistent with these results, we detected SIRT1 binding to the RTA promoter. Importantly, knockdown of SIRT1 was sufficient to increase the expression of KSHV lytic genes. Accordingly, the level of the H3K4me3 mark in the RTA promoter was increased following SIRT1 knockdown, while that of the H3K27me3 mark was decreased. Furthermore, SIRT1 interacted with RTA and inhibited RTA transactivation of its own promoter and that of its downstream target, the viral interleukin-6 gene. These results indicate that SIRT1 regulates KSHV latency by inhibiting different stages of viral lytic replication and link the cellular metabolic state with the KSHV life cycle.
IMPORTANCE Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the causal agent of several malignancies, including Kaposi's sarcoma, commonly found in immunocompromised patients. While latent infection is required for the development of KSHV-induced malignancies, viral lytic replication also promotes disease progression. However, the mechanism controlling KSHV latent versus lytic replication remains unclear. In this study, we found that class III histone deacetylases (HDACs), also known as SIRTs, whose activities are linked to the cellular metabolic state, mediate KSHV replication. Inhibitors of SIRTs can reactivate KSHV from latency. SIRTs mediate KSHV latency by epigenetically silencing a key KSHV lytic replication activator, RTA. We found that one of the SIRTs, SIRT1, binds to the RTA promoter to mediate KSHV latency. Knockdown of SIRT1 is sufficient to induce epigenetic remodeling and KSHV lytic replication. SIRT1 also interacts with RTA and inhibits RTA's transactivation function, preventing the expression of its downstream genes. Our results indicate that SIRTs regulate KSHV latency by inhibiting different stages of viral lytic replication and link the cellular metabolic state with the KSHV life cycle.
PMCID: PMC4093851  PMID: 24672028
9.  Phosphoproteomic Analysis of KSHV-Infected Cells Reveals Roles of ORF45-Activated RSK during Lytic Replication 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(7):e1004993.
Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) is an oncogenic virus which has adapted unique mechanisms to modulate the cellular microenvironment of its human host. The pathogenesis of KSHV is intimately linked to its manipulation of cellular signaling pathways, including the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. We have previously shown that KSHV ORF45 contributes to the sustained activation of both ERK and p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK, a major functional mediator of ERK/MAPK signaling) during KSHV lytic replication. ORF45-activated RSK is required for optimal KSHV lytic gene expression and progeny virion production, though the underlying mechanisms downstream of this activation are still unclear. We hypothesized that the activation of RSK by ORF45 causes differential phosphorylation of cellular and viral substrates, affecting biological processes essential for efficient KSHV lytic replication. Accordingly, we observed widespread and significant differences in protein phosphorylation upon induction of lytic replication. Mass-spectrometry-based phosphoproteomic screening identified putative substrates of ORF45-activated RSK in KSHV-infected cells. Bioinformatic analyses revealed that nuclear proteins, including several transcriptional regulators, were overrepresented among these candidates. We validated the ORF45/RSK-dependent phosphorylation of several putative substrates by employing KSHV BAC mutagenesis, kinase inhibitor treatments, and/or CRISPR-mediated knockout of RSK in KSHV-infected cells. Furthermore, we assessed the consequences of knocking out these substrates on ORF45/RSK-dependent regulation of gene expression and KSHV progeny virion production. Finally, we show data to support that ORF45 regulates the translational efficiency of a subset of viral/cellular genes with complex secondary structure in their 5’ UTR. Altogether, these data shed light on the mechanisms by which KSHV ORF45 manipulates components of the host cell machinery via modulation of RSK activity. Thus, this study has important implications for the pathobiology of KSHV and other diseases in which RSK activity is dysregulated.
Author Summary
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a human tumor virus which hijacks the host signaling pathways in order to maintain persistent infection. We previously discovered that the KSHV protein ORF45 binds to and activates the cellular kinase RSK (p90 ribosomal S6 kinase), and that this activation is vital for optimal KSHV gene expression and virion production. Here, we performed a phosphoproteomic analysis of KSHV-infected cells to further characterize the specific substrates of ORF45-activated RSK. Bioinformatic analyses provided insights into the functional roles of these substrates. We verified the ORF45/RSK-dependent phosphorylation of a subset of these substrates by various means. Finally, we used genome editing to knock out RSK, as well as several cellular substrates identified by our screening, and characterized the consequent effect(s) on regulation of gene expression and virion production. Thus, this work further elucidates one of the key signaling nodes modulated by KSHV, and implicates ORF45-mediated activation of RSK in the regulation of viral and host gene expression during KSHV lytic replication.
PMCID: PMC4489790  PMID: 26133373
10.  SUMO and KSHV Replication 
Cancers  2014;6(4):1905-1924.
Small Ubiquitin-related MOdifier (SUMO) modification was initially identified as a reversible post-translational modification that affects the regulation of diverse cellular processes, including signal transduction, protein trafficking, chromosome segregation, and DNA repair. Increasing evidence suggests that the SUMO system also plays an important role in regulating chromatin organization and transcription. It is thus not surprising that double-stranded DNA viruses, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), have exploited SUMO modification as a means of modulating viral chromatin remodeling during the latent-lytic switch. In addition, SUMO regulation allows the disassembly and assembly of promyelocytic leukemia protein-nuclear bodies (PML-NBs), an intrinsic antiviral host defense, during the viral replication cycle. Overcoming PML-NB-mediated cellular intrinsic immunity is essential to allow the initial transcription and replication of the herpesvirus genome after de novo infection. As a consequence, KSHV has evolved a way as to produce multiple SUMO regulatory viral proteins to modulate the cellular SUMO environment in a dynamic way during its life cycle. Remarkably, KSHV encodes one gene product (K-bZIP) with SUMO-ligase activities and one gene product (K-Rta) that exhibits SUMO-targeting ubiquitin ligase (STUbL) activity. In addition, at least two viral products are sumoylated that have functional importance. Furthermore, sumoylation can be modulated by other viral gene products, such as the viral protein kinase Orf36. Interference with the sumoylation of specific viral targets represents a potential therapeutic strategy when treating KSHV, as well as other oncogenic herpesviruses. Here, we summarize the different ways KSHV exploits and manipulates the cellular SUMO system and explore the multi-faceted functions of SUMO during KSHV’s life cycle and pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4276950  PMID: 25268162
KSHV; SUMO; epigenetic; PML-NB; interferon
11.  Evasion and Subversion of Interferon-Mediated Antiviral Immunity by Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus: an Overview ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(21):10934-10944.
Viral invasion of a host cell triggers immune responses with both innate and adaptive components. The innate immune response involving the induction of type I interferons (alpha and beta interferons [IFN-α and -β]) constitutes the first line of antiviral defenses. The type I IFNs signal the transcription of a group of antiviral effector proteins, the IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), which target distinct viral components and distinct stages of the viral life cycle, aiming to eliminate invading viruses. In the case of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a sudden upsurge of type I IFN-mediated innate antiviral signals is seen immediately following both primary de novo infection and viral lytic reactivation from latency. Potent subversion of these responses thus becomes mandatory for the successful establishment of a primary infection following viral entry as well as for efficient viral assembly and egress. This review gives a concise overview of the induction of the type I IFN signaling pathways in response to viral infection and provides a comprehensive understanding of the antagonizing effects exerted by KSHV on type I IFN pathways wielded at various stages of the viral life cycle. Information garnered from this review should result in a better understanding of KSHV biology essential for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies targeted toward KSHV-associated malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3194983  PMID: 21775463
12.  Epigenetic Analysis of KSHV Latent and Lytic Genomes 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(7):e1001013.
Epigenetic modifications of the herpesviral genome play a key role in the transcriptional control of latent and lytic genes during a productive viral lifecycle. In this study, we describe for the first time a comprehensive genome-wide ChIP-on-Chip analysis of the chromatin associated with the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) genome during latency and lytic reactivation. Depending on the gene expression class, different combinations of activating [acetylated H3 (AcH3) and H3K4me3] and repressive [H3K9me3 and H3K27me3] histone modifications are associated with the viral latent genome, which changes upon reactivation in a manner that is correlated with their expression. Specifically, both the activating marks co-localize on the KSHV latent genome, as do the repressive marks. However, the activating and repressive histone modifications are mutually exclusive of each other on the bulk of the latent KSHV genome. The genomic region encoding the IE genes ORF50 and ORF48 possesses the features of a bivalent chromatin structure characterized by the concomitant presence of the activating H3K4me3 and the repressive H3K27me3 marks during latency, which rapidly changes upon reactivation with increasing AcH3 and H3K4me3 marks and decreasing H3K27me3. Furthermore, EZH2, the H3K27me3 histone methyltransferase of the Polycomb group proteins (PcG), colocalizes with the H3K27me3 mark on the entire KSHV genome during latency, whereas RTA-mediated reactivation induces EZH2 dissociation from the genomic regions encoding IE and E genes concurrent with decreasing H3K27me3 level and increasing IE/E lytic gene expression. Moreover, either the inhibition of EZH2 expression by a small molecule inhibitor DZNep and RNAi knockdown, or the expression of H3K27me3-specific histone demethylases apparently induced the KSHV lytic gene expression cascade. These data indicate that histone modifications associated with the KSHV latent genome are involved in the regulation of latency and ultimately in the control of the temporal and sequential expression of the lytic gene cascade. In addition, the PcG proteins play a critical role in the control of KSHV latency by maintaining a reversible heterochromatin on the KSHV lytic genes. Thus, the regulation of the spatial and temporal association of the PcG proteins with the KSHV genome may be crucial for propagating the KSHV lifecycle.
Author Summary
KSHV is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that establishes a life-long persistent infection in humans and is associated with Kaposi's sarcoma and several lymphoid malignancies. During latency, the KSHV genome persists as a multicopy circular DNA assembled into nucleosomal structures. While viral latency is characterized by restricted viral gene expression, reactivation induces the lytic replication program and the expression of viral genes in defined sequential and temporal order. Posttranslational modifications of the viral chromatin structure have been implicated to regulate viral gene expressions but the underlying gene regulatory mechanisms are still elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the latent and lytic chromatins of KSHV are associated with a distinctive pattern of activating and repressive histone modifications whose distribution changes upon reactivation in an organized manner in correlation with the temporally ordered expression of viral lytic genes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the evolutionarily conserved Polycomb group proteins, that maintain the repression of genes involved in hematopoiesis, X-chromosome inactivation, cell proliferation and stem cell differentiation, also play a critical role in the regulation of KSHV latency by maintaining a repressive chromatin structure. Thus, the epigenetic program of KSHV is at the crux of restricting latent gene expression and the orderly expression of lytic genes.
PMCID: PMC2908616  PMID: 20661424
13.  A Role for Host Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase in Innate Immune Defense against KSHV 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(11):e1003748.
Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is specifically induced in germinal center B cells to carry out somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination, two processes responsible for antibody diversification. Because of its mutagenic potential, AID expression and activity are tightly regulated to minimize unwanted DNA damage. Surprisingly, AID expression has been observed ectopically during pathogenic infections. However, the function of AID outside of the germinal centers remains largely uncharacterized. In this study, we demonstrate that infection of human primary naïve B cells with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) rapidly induces AID expression in a cell intrinsic manner. We find that infected cells are marked for elimination by Natural Killer cells through upregulation of NKG2D ligands via the DNA damage pathway, a pathway triggered by AID. Moreover, without having a measurable effect on KSHV latency, AID impinges directly on the viral fitness by inhibiting lytic reactivation and reducing infectivity of KSHV virions. Importantly, we uncover two KSHV-encoded microRNAs that directly regulate AID abundance, further reinforcing the role for AID in the antiviral response. Together our findings reveal additional functions for AID in innate immune defense against KSHV with implications for a broader involvement in innate immunity to other pathogens.
Author Summary
Immune responses to pathogens rely heavily on the ability of B cells to generate a unique set of antibodies that can bind and eliminate the pathogen. Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is the enzyme specifically upregulated in activated B cells to diversify the antibody repertoire by introducing mutations within the antibody coding genes. Curiously, AID expression has been observed outside of activated B cells upon infection with a number of viral and bacterial pathogens. However, in such cases AID function is poorly characterized and often deemed inappropriate since its mutagenic activity can put the cell at risk for oncogenic transformation. In this study, we investigate the expression of AID in response to infection with an oncogenic human pathogen Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and the antibody-independent immune defense it exerts. We show that AID marks infected cells for elimination by natural killer (NK) cells and directly impinges on viral fitness. Furthermore, we uncover novel viral immune evasion strategies employed by KSHV to counteract AID. Together, our findings demonstrate a protective role for AID in the response to infection with an oncogenic virus such as KSHV and suggest that AID may actually limit transformation rather than serve as its culprit.
PMCID: PMC3820765  PMID: 24244169
14.  Recombinant Murine Gamma Herpesvirus 68 Carrying KSHV G Protein-Coupled Receptor Induces Angiogenic Lesions in Mice 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(6):e1005001.
Human gamma herpesviruses, including Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), are capable of inducing tumors, particularly in in immune-compromised individuals. Due to the stringent host tropism, rodents are resistant to infection by human gamma herpesviruses, creating a significant barrier for the in vivo study of viral genes that contribute to tumorigenesis. The closely-related murine gamma herpesvirus 68 (γHV68) efficiently infects laboratory mouse strains and establishes robust persistent infection without causing apparent disease. Here, we report that a recombinant γHV68 carrying the KSHV G protein-coupled receptor (kGPCR) in place of its murine counterpart induces angiogenic tumors in infected mice. Although viral GPCRs are conserved in all gamma herpesviruses, kGPCR potently activated downstream signaling and induced tumor formation in nude mouse, whereas γHV68 GPCR failed to do so. Recombinant γHV68 carrying kGPCR demonstrated more robust lytic replication ex vivo than wild-type γHV68, although both viruses underwent similar acute and latent infection in vivo. Infection of immunosuppressed mice with γHV68 carrying kGPCR, but not wild-type γHV68, induced tumors in mice that exhibited angiogenic and inflammatory features shared with human Kaposi’s sarcoma. Immunohistochemistry staining identified abundant latently-infected cells and a small number of cells supporting lytic replication in tumor tissue. Thus, mouse infection with a recombinant γHV68 carrying kGPCR provides a useful small animal model for tumorigenesis induced by a human gamma herpesvirus gene in the setting of a natural course of infection.
Author Summary
Human gamma herpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), are causatively linked to a spectrum of human oncogenic malignancies. Due to the stringent host restriction, rodents are generally not amenable to infection by EBV and KSHV. Murine gamma herpesvirus 68 (γHV68) is closely related to KSHV and EBV, although infection in mouse does not manifest apparent diseases. Here we developed a recombinant γHV68 that carries the KSHV G protein-coupled receptor, an important signaling molecule implicated in KSHV pathogenesis. Intriguingly, laboratory mice infected with this recombinant γHV68 developed angiogenic lesions that resembled human Kaposi’s sarcoma. This mouse infection with recombinant γHV68 carrying KSHV GPCR represents a useful model to investigate viral oncogenesis induced by human gamma herpesvirus in the context of viral infection.
PMCID: PMC4479558  PMID: 26107716
15.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Induces Nrf2 during De Novo Infection of Endothelial Cells to Create a Microenvironment Conducive to Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(10):e1004460.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and primary effusion B-cell lymphoma. KSHV induces reactive oxygen species (ROS) early during infection of human dermal microvascular endothelial (HMVEC-d) cells that are critical for virus entry. One of the downstream targets of ROS is nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a transcription factor with important anti-oxidative functions. Here, we show that KS skin lesions have high Nrf2 activity compared to healthy skin tissue. Within 30 minutes of de novo KSHV infection of HMVEC-d cells, we observed Nrf2 activation through ROS-mediated dissociation from its inhibitor Keap1, Ser-40 phosphorylation, and subsequent nuclear translocation. KSHV binding and consequent signaling through Src, PI3-K and PKC-ζ were also important for Nrf2 stability, phosphorylation and transcriptional activity. Although Nrf2 was dispensable for ROS homeostasis, it was essential for the induction of COX-2, VEGF-A, VEGF-D, Bcl-2, NQO1, GCS, HO1, TKT, TALDO and G6PD gene expression in KSHV-infected HMVEC-d cells. The COX-2 product PGE2 induced Nrf2 activity through paracrine and autocrine signaling, creating a feed-forward loop between COX-2 and Nrf2. vFLIP, a product of KSHV latent gene ORF71, induced Nrf2 and its target genes NQO1 and HO1. Activated Nrf2 colocalized with the KSHV genome as well as with the latency protein LANA-1. Nrf2 knockdown enhanced ORF73 expression while reducing ORF50 and other lytic gene expression without affecting KSHV entry or genome nuclear delivery. Collectively, these studies for the first time demonstrate that during de novo infection, KSHV induces Nrf2 through intricate mechanisms involving multiple signal molecules, which is important for its ability to manipulate host and viral genes, creating a microenvironment conducive to KSHV infection. Thus, Nrf2 is a potential attractive target to intervene in KSHV infection and the associated maladies.
Author Summary
KSHV infection of endothelial cells in vivo causes Kaposi's sarcoma and understanding the steps involved in de novo KSHV infection of these cells and the consequences is important to develop therapies to counter KSHV pathogenesis. Infection of endothelial cells in vitro is preceded by the induction of a network of host signaling agents that are necessary for virus entry, gene expression and establishment of latency. Our previous studies have implicated reactive oxygen species (ROS) as part of this network. In the current study, we show that ROS activate Nrf2, a master transcriptional regulator of genes involved in ROS homeostasis, apoptosis, glucose metabolism and angiogenesis. Besides ROS, KSHV utilizes additional aspects of host signaling to induce Nrf2 activity. We also observed that infection of endothelial cells deficient in Nrf2 resulted in downregulation of multiple genes important in KSHV pathogenesis, such as COX-2 and VEGF, and affected proper expression of two hallmark KSHV genes, lytic ORF50 and latent ORF73. Taken together, this study is the first to demonstrate the importance of Nrf2 during de novo KSHV infection of endothelial cells, and establishes Nrf2 as an attractive therapeutic target to control KSHV infection, establishment of latency and the associated cancers.
PMCID: PMC4207826  PMID: 25340789
16.  Global Metabolic Profiling of Infection by an Oncogenic Virus: KSHV Induces and Requires Lipogenesis for Survival of Latent Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(8):e1002866.
Like cancer cells, virally infected cells have dramatically altered metabolic requirements. We analyzed global metabolic changes induced by latent infection with an oncogenic virus, Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). KSHV is the etiologic agent of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS), the most common tumor of AIDS patients. Approximately one-third of the nearly 200 measured metabolites were altered following latent infection of endothelial cells by KSHV, including many metabolites of anabolic pathways common to most cancer cells. KSHV induced pathways that are commonly altered in cancer cells including glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway, amino acid production and fatty acid synthesis. Interestingly, over half of the detectable long chain fatty acids detected in our screen were significantly increased by latent KSHV infection. KSHV infection leads to the elevation of metabolites involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, not degradation from phospholipids, and leads to increased lipid droplet organelle formation in the infected cells. Fatty acid synthesis is required for the survival of latently infected endothelial cells, as inhibition of key enzymes in this pathway led to apoptosis of infected cells. Addition of palmitic acid to latently infected cells treated with a fatty acid synthesis inhibitor protected the cells from death indicating that the products of this pathway are essential. Our metabolomic analysis of KSHV-infected cells provides insight as to how oncogenic viruses can induce metabolic alterations common to cancer cells. Furthermore, this analysis raises the possibility that metabolic pathways may provide novel therapeutic targets for the inhibition of latent KSHV infection and ultimately KS tumors.
Author Summary
In recent years there has been a resurgence in the study of metabolic changes in tumor cells. To determine if an oncogenic virus alters similar metabolic pathways as cancer cells, we measured the levels of a large number of metabolites in endothelial cells infected with Kaposi?s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). KSHV is the etiologic agent of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS), the most common tumor of AIDS patients world wide. Latent KSHV infection of endothelial cells altered a significant proportion of the host cell metabolites. Many metabolic pathways that are altered in most tumor cells were also altered by KSHV. In particular, KSHV upregulated fatty acid synthesis, a pathway that provides membrane material and metabolites critical for cell proliferation. Inhibitors of fatty acid synthesis kill many types of tumor cells and we found that these inhibitors led to death of cells latently infected with KSHV. In summary, we found that a directly oncogenic virus alters the same host metabolic pathways that are dysregulated in many cancer cells and that inhibition of these pathways can be used to kill off infected cells, thereby providing novel therapeutic targets for KSHV and ultimately KS tumors.
PMCID: PMC3420960  PMID: 22916018
17.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF57 Protein Binds and Protects a Nuclear Noncoding RNA from Cellular RNA Decay Pathways 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000799.
The control of RNA stability is a key determinant in cellular gene expression. The stability of any transcript is modulated through the activity of cis- or trans-acting regulatory factors as well as cellular quality control systems that ensure the integrity of a transcript. As a result, invading viral pathogens must be able to subvert cellular RNA decay pathways capable of destroying viral transcripts. Here we report that the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) ORF57 protein binds to a unique KSHV polyadenylated nuclear RNA, called PAN RNA, and protects it from degradation by cellular factors. ORF57 increases PAN RNA levels and its effects are greatest on unstable alleles of PAN RNA. Kinetic analysis of transcription pulse assays shows that ORF57 protects PAN RNA from a rapid cellular RNA decay process, but ORF57 has little effect on transcription or PAN RNA localization based on chromatin immunoprecipitation and in situ hybridization experiments, respectively. Using a UV cross-linking technique, we further demonstrate that ORF57 binds PAN RNA directly in living cells and we show that binding correlates with function. In addition, we define an ORF57-responsive element (ORE) that is necessary for ORF57 binding to PAN RNA and sufficient to confer ORF57-response to a heterologous intronless β-globin mRNA, but not its spliced counterparts. We conclude that ORF57 binds to viral transcripts in the nucleus and protects them from a cellular RNA decay pathway. We propose that KSHV ORF57 protein functions to enhance the nuclear stability of intronless viral transcripts by protecting them from a cellular RNA quality control pathway.
Author Summary
In order to replicate efficiently, a virus must ensure that its genes are properly expressed in the context of an infected host cell. Recent work has demonstrated that eukaryotic cells have RNA quality control pathways that degrade improperly processed, aberrant RNAs. Our published findings using an unusual Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) nuclear RNA, called PAN RNA, have suggested that intronless polyadenylated transcripts are subject to such a quality control system. Because most KSHV genes lack introns, we hypothesized that KSHV must have evolved mechanisms that bypass this quality control system. In support of this idea, we show that the ORF57 protein, a multifunctional enhancer of KSHV gene expression, binds to and stabilizes PAN RNA. We further define an element called the ORF57-responsive element (ORE) in PAN RNA that is necessary for ORF57-binding and activity on PAN RNA. In addition, we show that the ORE is sufficient to confer ORF57-responsiveness to a heterologous intronless mRNA, but not its spliced counterpart. These observations substantiate the model that ORF57 enhances KSHV gene expression by protecting viral transcripts from host RNA surveillance pathways. More broadly, these data suggest that viruses producing intronless nuclear RNAs require mechanisms to evade host quality control mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2832700  PMID: 20221435
18.  CTCF and Rad21 Act as Host Cell Restriction Factors for Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) Lytic Replication by Modulating Viral Gene Transcription 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(1):e1003880.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a human herpesvirus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma and is associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases. KSHV reactivation from latency and virion production is dependent on efficient transcription of over eighty lytic cycle genes and viral DNA replication. CTCF and cohesin, cellular proteins that cooperatively regulate gene expression and mediate long-range DNA interactions, have been shown to bind at specific sites in herpesvirus genomes. CTCF and cohesin regulate KSHV gene expression during latency and may also control lytic reactivation, although their role in lytic gene expression remains incompletely characterized. Here, we analyze the dynamic changes in CTCF and cohesin binding that occur during the process of KSHV viral reactivation and virion production by high resolution chromatin immunoprecipitation and deep sequencing (ChIP-Seq) and show that both proteins dissociate from viral genomes in kinetically and spatially distinct patterns. By utilizing siRNAs to specifically deplete CTCF and Rad21, a cohesin component, we demonstrate that both proteins are potent restriction factors for KSHV replication, with cohesin knockdown leading to hundred-fold increases in viral yield. High-throughput RNA sequencing was used to characterize the transcriptional effects of CTCF and cohesin depletion, and demonstrated that both proteins have complex and global effects on KSHV lytic transcription. Specifically, both proteins act as positive factors for viral transcription initially but subsequently inhibit KSHV lytic transcription, such that their net effect is to limit KSHV RNA accumulation. Cohesin is a more potent inhibitor of KSHV transcription than CTCF but both proteins are also required for efficient transcription of a subset of KSHV genes. These data reveal novel effects of CTCF and cohesin on transcription from a relatively small genome that resemble their effects on the cellular genome by acting as gene-specific activators of some promoters, but differ in acting as global negative regulators of transcription.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a human virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma and lymphoma. KSHV establishes a lifelong infection in B lymphocytes, and persists in a latent form as circular DNA molecules. Reactivation and replication yield infectious virions, allowing transmission and maintenance of latent infection. The cellular mechanisms controlling reactivation remain incompletely characterized. Host proteins that regulate RNA transcription play an important role in controlling viral reactivation. In this study, we used high-throughput techniques to analyze the binding of two cellular proteins, CTCF and Rad21, to the KSHV genome as the virus reactivated to produce infectious virions. We found that these proteins dissociate from the latent genome when reactivation occurs. We also found that depleting cells of these proteins increases virus production as much as a hundredfold. Depleting the cell of CTCF or Rad21 caused complex changes in the synthesis of RNAs by KSHV, with the amounts of most KSHV RNAs increasing greatly. We also showed that Rad21 and CTCF are needed for the virus to synthesize RNAs efficiently. Our study provides new insights into how the cell uses CTCF and Rad21 to limit KSHV's ability to synthesize RNA and reactivate from latency to produce infectious virus.
PMCID: PMC3887114  PMID: 24415941
19.  Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Genome Programming during the Early Stages of Primary Infection of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
mBio  2014;5(6):e02261-14.
The early period of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection involves the dynamic expression of viral genes, which are temporally and epigenetically regulated. KSHV can effectively infect and persist in endothelial as well as human B cells with different gene expression patterns. To understand the temporal epigenetic changes which occur when KSHV infects the lymphocytic compartment, we infected human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and comprehensively analyzed the changes which occurred at the binding sites of virally encoded lytic as well as latent proteins along with epigenetic modifications across the KSHV genome during early primary infection. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we showed that the KSHV genome acquires a uniquely distinct histone modification pattern of methylation (H3K4me3, H3K9me3, and H3K27me3) and acetylation (H3Ac) during de novo infection of human PBMCs. This pattern showed that the epigenetic changes were temporally controlled. The binding profiles of KSHV latent protein LANA and the immediate early proteins RTA and K8 showed specific patterns at different times postinfection, which reflects the gene expression program. Further analysis demonstrated that KSHV can concurrently express lytic and latent genes which were associated with histone modifications at these specific regions on the viral genome. We identified three KSHV genes, K3, ORF49, and ORF64, which exhibited different profiles of histone modifications during the early stages of PBMC infection. These studies established a distinct pattern of epigenetic modification which correlates with viral gene expression temporally regulated during the first 7 days of PBMC infection and provides clues to the regulatory program required for successful infection by KSHV of human PBMCs.
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) has been documented as one of the major contributors to morbidity and mortality in AIDS patients during the AIDS pandemic. During its life cycle, KSHV undergoes latent and lytic replication. Typically, KSHV maintains a stringent preference for latent infection in the infected B cells. However, 1 to 5% of infected cells undergo spontaneous lytic reactivation. KSHV lytic replication and infection of new cells are likely to be critical for maintaining the population of infected cells which drive virus-associated pathogenesis. Here, we explored the temporal changes of crucial histone marks on the KSHV genome during early infection of human primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which are a physiologically relevant system for monitoring primary infection. These results showed that KSHV possessed a distinct pattern of epigenetic marks during early infection of PBMCs. Further, KSHV concurrently expressed lytic and latent genes during this early period. These results now provide new evidence which contributes to understanding the molecular mechanism that regulates viral gene expression during early infection.
PMCID: PMC4271552  PMID: 25516617
20.  Non-Human Primate Model of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(10):e1000606.
Since Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV or human herpesvirus 8) was first identified in Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) lesions of HIV-infected individuals with AIDS, the basic biological understanding of KSHV has progressed remarkably. However, the absence of a proper animal model for KSHV continues to impede direct in vivo studies of viral replication, persistence, and pathogenesis. In response to this need for an animal model of KSHV infection, we have explored whether common marmosets can be experimentally infected with human KSHV. Here, we report the successful zoonotic transmission of KSHV into common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus, Cj), a New World primate. Marmosets infected with recombinant KSHV rapidly seroconverted and maintained a vigorous anti-KSHV antibody response. KSHV DNA and latent nuclear antigen (LANA) were readily detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and various tissues of infected marmosets. Remarkably, one orally infected marmoset developed a KS-like skin lesion with the characteristic infiltration of leukocytes by spindle cells positive for KSHV DNA and proteins. These results demonstrate that human KSHV infects common marmosets, establishes an efficient persistent infection, and occasionally leads to a KS-like skin lesion. This is the first animal model to significantly elaborate the important aspects of KSHV infection in humans and will aid in the future design of vaccines against KSHV and anti-viral therapies targeting KSHV coinfected tumor cells.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV or human herpesvirus 8), the most recently identified human tumor-inducing virus, has been linked to Kaposi's sarcoma, pleural effusion lymphomas and multicentric Castleman's disease. In fact, KSHV accounts for a large proportion of the cancer deaths in Africa. Further, the incidence of KSHV in the US and Europe has greatly increased due to the AIDS pandemic. Despite these pressing human health problems, studies of KSHV infection are greatly hampered by the lack of cell culture and animal models. To address this serious need, we set out to develop an animal model for KSHV infection. In this manuscript, we report the successful zoonotic transmission of KSHV into common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus, Cj), a New World primate. Our study demonstrates that experimental KSHV infection of the common marmoset is highly analogous to its infection of humans, including the means of infection, sustained serological responses, latent infection of PBMCs, virus persistence, and KS-like skin lesion development, although the latter was infrequent in experimental KSHV infections. This model thus provides a unique opportunity to dissect the molecular mechanisms of KSHV infection, persistence, and pathogenesis directly in primates.
PMCID: PMC2745662  PMID: 19798430
21.  The Viral Interferon Regulatory Factors of KSHV: Immunosuppressors or Oncogenes? 
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a large double-stranded DNA gammaherpesvirus, and the etiological agent for three human malignancies: Kaposi’s sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman’s disease. To establish and maintain infection, KSHV has evolved unique mechanisms to evade the host immune response. Cellular interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) are a critical part of the host anti-viral immune response. KSHV encodes four homologs of IRFs, vIRF1–4, which inhibit the activity of their cellular counterparts. vIRF1, 2, and 3 have been shown to interact directly with cellular IRFs. Additionally, the vIRFs have other functions such as modulation of Myc, p53, Notch, transforming growth factor-β, and NF-κB signaling. These activities of vIRFs may contribute to KSHV tumorigenesis. KSHV vIRF1 and vIRF3 have been implicated as oncogenes, making the understanding of KSHV vIRF function vital to understanding KSHV pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3342017  PMID: 22566809
22.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Induces the ATM and H2AX DNA Damage Response Early during De Novo Infection of Primary Endothelial Cells, Which Play Roles in Latency Establishment 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(5):2821-2834.
The DNA damage response (DDR) that evolved to repair host cell DNA damage also recognizes viral DNA entering the nucleus during infections. Here, we investigated the modulation of DDR signaling during de novo infection of primary endothelial cells by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Phosphorylation of representative DDR-associated proteins, such as ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and H2AX, was induced as early as 30 min (0.5 h) postinfection and persisted during in vitro KSHV latency. Phosphorylated H2AX (γH2AX) colocalized at 30 min (0.5 h) with the KSHV genome entering the nuclei. Total H2AX protein levels also increased, and the increase was attributed to a decrease in degradative H2AX Lys48-linked polyubiquitination with a concomitant increase in Lys63-linked polyubiquitination that was shown to increase protein stability. ATM and H2AX phosphorylation and γH2AX nuclear foci were also induced by UV-inactivated KSHV, which ceased at later times of infection. Inhibition of ATM kinase activity by KU-55933 and H2AX knockdown by small interfering RNA significantly reduced the expression of the KSHV latency-associated nuclear antigen 1 (LANA-1; ORF73) and LANA-1 nuclear puncta. Knockdown of H2AX also resulted in a >80% reduction in the nuclear KSHV DNA copy numbers. Similar results were also observed in ATM-negative cells, although comparable levels of viral DNA entered ATM-negative and ATM-positive cell nuclei. In contrast, knockdown of CHK1 and CHK2 did not affect ORF73 expression. Collectively, these results demonstrate that KSHV induces ATM and H2AX, a selective arm of the DDR, for the establishment and maintenance of its latency during de novo infection of primary endothelial cells.
IMPORTANCE Eukaryotic cells mount a DNA damage response (DDR) to sense and repair different types of cellular DNA damage. In addition, DDR also recognizes exogenous genetic material, such as the viral DNA genome entering the nucleus during infections. The present study was undertaken to determine whether de novo Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection modulates DDR. Our results demonstrate that early during de novo infection of primary endothelial cells, KSHV induces a selective arm of DDR signaling, such as the ATM kinase and its downstream target, H2AX, which are essential for KSHV's latent gene expression and the establishment of latency. These studies suggest that targeting ATM and H2AX could serve as an attractive strategy to block the establishment of KSHV latent infection and the associated malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3958070  PMID: 24352470
23.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus K7 Induces Viral G Protein-Coupled Receptor Degradation and Reduces Its Tumorigenicity 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(9):e1000157.
The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) genome encodes a G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR). vGPCR is a ligand-independent, constitutively active signaling molecule that promotes cell growth and proliferation; however, it is not clear how vGPCR is negatively regulated. We report here that the KSHV K7 small membrane protein interacts with vGPCR and induces its degradation, thereby dampening vGPCR signaling. K7 interaction with vGPCR is readily detected in transiently transfected human cells. Mutational analyses reveal that the K7 transmembrane domain is necessary and sufficient for this interaction. Biochemical and confocal microscopy studies indicate that K7 retains vGPCR in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and induces vGPCR proteasomeal degradation. Indeed, the knockdown of K7 by shRNA-mediated silencing increases vGPCR protein expression in BCBL-1 cells that are induced for KSHV lytic replication. Interestingly, K7 expression significantly reduces vGPCR tumorigenicity in nude mice. These findings define a viral factor that negatively regulates vGPCR protein expression and reveal a post-translational event that modulates GPCR-dependent transformation and tumorigenicity.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma. KSHV is also found in primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease, rare lymphoproliferative diorders associated with immuno-suppression. The KSHV genome encodes a G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR) that is believed to contribute to the KSHV-associated malignancies. vGPCR is a ligand-independent, constitutively active signaling molecule. It is not clear how vGPCR is negatively regulated. Here, we report that the KSHV small membrane K7 protein interacts with vGPCR through its putative transmembrane domain. Interaction with K7 retains vGPCR in the ER and facilitates its degradation by the proteasome, thereby reducing vGPCR protein expression. Consequently, K7 significantly reduces vGPCR-mediated transformation in vitro and tumor formation in nude mice. Our findings reveal that K7 functions as a viral factor to dampen vGPCR protein expression and negatively modulate the tumor-inducing capacity of vGPCR, implying that KSHV has evolved mechanisms to avoid deleterious effects and to permit persistent infection within its host.
PMCID: PMC2529400  PMID: 18802460
24.  The RING-CH Ligase K5 Antagonizes Restriction of KSHV and HIV-1 Particle Release by Mediating Ubiquitin-Dependent Endosomal Degradation of Tetherin 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(4):e1000843.
Tetherin (CD317/BST2) is an interferon-induced membrane protein that inhibits the release of diverse enveloped viral particles. Several mammalian viruses have evolved countermeasures that inactivate tetherin, with the prototype being the HIV-1 Vpu protein. Here we show that the human herpesvirus Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is sensitive to tetherin restriction and its activity is counteracted by the KSHV encoded RING-CH E3 ubiquitin ligase K5. Tetherin expression in KSHV-infected cells inhibits viral particle release, as does depletion of K5 protein using RNA interference. K5 induces a species-specific downregulation of human tetherin from the cell surface followed by its endosomal degradation. We show that K5 targets a single lysine (K18) in the cytoplasmic tail of tetherin for ubiquitination, leading to relocalization of tetherin to CD63-positive endosomal compartments. Tetherin degradation is dependent on ESCRT-mediated endosomal sorting, but does not require a tyrosine-based sorting signal in the tetherin cytoplasmic tail. Importantly, we also show that the ability of K5 to substitute for Vpu in HIV-1 release is entirely dependent on K18 and the RING-CH domain of K5. By contrast, while Vpu induces ubiquitination of tetherin cytoplasmic tail lysine residues, mutation of these positions has no effect on its antagonism of tetherin function, and residual tetherin is associated with the trans-Golgi network (TGN) in Vpu-expressing cells. Taken together our results demonstrate that K5 is a mechanistically distinct viral countermeasure to tetherin-mediated restriction, and that herpesvirus particle release is sensitive to this mode of antiviral inhibition.
Author Summary
To replicate efficiently in their hosts, viruses must avoid antiviral cellular defenses that comprise part of the innate immune system. Tetherin, an antiviral membrane protein that inhibits the release of several enveloped viruses from infected cells, is antagonized by the HIV-1 Vpu protein. The K5 protein of the human pathogen Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) modulates the cell surface levels of several host proteins including tetherin. We show that KSHV release is sensitive to tetherin, and that K5 expression is required for efficient virus production in tetherin-expressing cells. K5 is also capable of rescuing Vpu-defective HIV-1 virus release from tetherin. K5 expression induces a down-regulation of cell-surface tetherin levels and degradation in late endosomes, which depends on a single lysine residue in the tetherin cytoplasmic tail. Finally, we show that the ESCRT pathway, which promotes the trafficking of cell surface receptors for degradation, is required for K5-mediated tetherin removal from the plasma membrane. Thus, we demonstrate that herpesviruses are sensitive to the antiviral effects of tetherin and that KSHV has evolved a mechanism for its destruction. These findings extend the list of viruses sensitive to tetherin, suggesting that tetherin counter-measures are widespread defense mechanisms amongst enveloped viruses.
PMCID: PMC2855335  PMID: 20419159
25.  The Ubiquitin/Proteasome System Mediates Entry and Endosomal Trafficking of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus in Endothelial Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(5):e1002703.
Ubiquitination, a post-translational modification, mediates diverse cellular functions including endocytic transport of molecules. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), an enveloped herpesvirus, enters endothelial cells primarily through clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Whether ubiquitination and proteasome activity regulates KSHV entry and endocytosis remains unknown. We showed that inhibition of proteasome activity reduced KSHV entry into endothelial cells and intracellular trafficking to nuclei, thus preventing KSHV infection of the cells. Three-dimensional (3-D) analyses revealed accumulation of KSHV particles in a cytoplasmic compartment identified as EEA1+ endosomal vesicles upon proteasome inhibition. KSHV particles are colocalized with ubiquitin-binding proteins epsin and eps15. Furthermore, ubiquitination mediates internalization of both KSHV and one of its receptors integrin β1. KSHV particles are colocalized with activated forms of the E3 ligase c-Cbl. Knock-down of c-Cbl or inhibition of its phosphorylation reduced viral entry and intracellular trafficking, resulting in decreased KSHV infectivity. These results demonstrate that ubiquitination mediates internalization of both KSHV and one of its cognate receptors integrin β1, and identify c-Cbl as a potential E3 ligase that facilitates this process.
Author Summary
Ubiquitination, a post-translational modification, mediates important cellular functions including endocytic transport of molecules. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus linked to the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, an endothelial malignancy commonly found in AIDS patients, and several other malignancies. KSHV enters endothelial cells primarily through clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In this study, we show that the proteasome activity is required for KSHV entry into endothelial cells and intracellular trafficking to nuclei. Inhibition of proteasome activity reduced KSHV infectivity and led to the accumulation of KSHV particles in EEA1+ early endosomal vesicles. Furthermore, we show that ubiquitination mediates the internalization of both KSHV and one of its receptors integrin β1. KSHV particles are colocalized with ubiquitin-binding proteins epsin and eps15, as well as activated forms of the E3 ligase c-Cbl. Knock-down of c-Cbl or inhibition of its phosphorylation blocked KSHV entry and trafficking, thus preventing KSHV infection of endothelial cells. Together, these results illustrate the essential role of ubiquitination during the internalization of KSHV and its cognate receptor integrin β1. The identification of an E3 ligase that mediates the ubiquitination of KSHV and its cognate receptor integrin β1 leading to viral entry provide a potential therapeutic target for this oncogenic virus.
PMCID: PMC3355089  PMID: 22615563

Results 1-25 (464458)