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Oncogene. 2003 Aug 11;22(33):5150-63.

The role of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus/human herpesvirus-8 regulator of transcription activation (RTA) in control of gene expression.

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Nebraska Center for Virology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1901 Vine Street, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA.


The mechanisms that control the replication state, latency versus lytic, of human herpesviruses have been under intense investigations. Here we summarize some of the recent findings that help define such mechanisms for Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus/human herpesvirus type 8 (KSHV/HHV-8). For HHV-8, the viral regulator of transcription activation (RTA) is a key mediator of the switch from latency to lytic gene expression in infected cells. RTA is necessary and sufficient to drive HHV-8 lytic replication and the production of viral progeny. The RTA is an immediate-early gene product, it is the initial activator of expression of a multitude of viral and cellular genes that have been implicated in the replication of HHV-8 and pathogenesis of KS. Interactions of RTA with a number of viral promoters, and with a number of transcription factors or transcriptional co-activators are highlighted. Modulation of transactivation, through alternate RTA-protein, or RTA-promoter interactions, is hypothesized to participate in the selective tissue tropism and differential pathogenesis observed in KS.

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