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PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(3):e1002566. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002566. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus upregulates Aurora A expression to promote p53 phosphorylation and ubiquitylation.

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Department of Microbiology and the Tumor Virology Program, Abramson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.


Aberrant expression of Aurora A kinase has been frequently implicated in many cancers and contributes to chromosome instability and phosphorylation-mediated ubiquitylation and degradation of p53 for tumorigenesis. Previous studies showed that p53 is degraded by Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) encoded latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) through its SOCS-box (suppressor of cytokine signaling, LANA(SOCS)) motif-mediated recruitment of the EC(5)S ubiquitin complex. Here we demonstrate that Aurora A transcriptional expression is upregulated by LANA and markedly elevated in both Kaposi's sarcoma tissue and human primary cells infected with KSHV. Moreover, reintroduction of Aurora A dramatically enhances the binding affinity of p53 with LANA and LANA(SOCS)-mediated ubiquitylation of p53 which requires phosphorylation on Ser215 and Ser315. Small hairpin RNA or a dominant negative mutant of Aurora A kinase efficiently disrupts LANA-induced p53 ubiquitylation and degradation, and leads to induction of p53 transcriptional and apoptotic activities. These studies provide new insights into the mechanisms by which LANA can upregulate expression of a cellular oncogene and simultaneously destabilize the activities of the p53 tumor suppressor in KSHV-associated human cancers.

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