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PLoS Pathog. 2010 Mar 19;6(3):e1000818. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000818.

Nucleophosmin phosphorylation by v-cyclin-CDK6 controls KSHV latency.

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Genome-Scale Biology Program, Biomedicum Helsinki & Institute of Biomedicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


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.

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