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Blood. 2001 Apr 15;97(8):2374-80.

Targeted inhibition of calcineurin signaling blocks calcium-dependent reactivation of Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

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  • 1Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-1908, USA.


Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is associated with KS, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and multicentric Castleman disease. Reactivation of KSHV in latently infected cells and subsequent plasma viremia occur before the development of KS. Intracellular signaling pathways involved in KSHV reactivation were studied. In latently infected PEL cells (BCBL-1), KSHV reactivation in single cells was determined by quantitative flow cytometry. Viral particle production was determined by electron microscope analyses and detection of minor capsid protein in culture supernatants. Agents that mobilized intracellular calcium (ionomycin, thapsigargin) induced expression of KSHV lytic cycle-associated proteins and led to increased virus production. Calcium-mediated virus reactivation was blocked by specific inhibitors of calcineurin-dependent signal transduction (cyclosporine, FK506). Similarly, calcium-mediated virus reactivation in KSHV-infected dermal microvascular endothelial cells was blocked by cyclosporine. Furthermore, retroviral transduction with plasmid DNA encoding VIVIT, a peptide specifically blocking calcineurin-NFAT interactions, inhibited calcium-dependent KSHV reactivation. By contrast, chemical induction of lytic-phase infection by the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate was blocked by protein kinase C inhibitors, but not by calcineurin inhibitors. In summary, calcineurin-dependent signal transduction, an important signaling cascade in vivo, induces calcium-dependent KSHV replication, providing a possible target for the design of antiherpesvirus strategies in KSHV-infected patients.

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