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MBio. 2014 Dec 16;5(6). pii: e02261-14. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02261-14.

Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus genome programming during the early stages of primary infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Tumor Virology Program of the Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Tumor Virology Program of the Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


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.

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