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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 1;106(48):20446-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0905535106. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

U94 of human herpesvirus 6 inhibits in vitro angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis.

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Section of Microbiology, University of Brescia, Piazzale Spedali Civili 1, 25123 Brescia, Italy.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a lymphotropic virus, but recent observations showed that also vascular endothelial cells (ECs) are susceptible to infection, both in vivo and in vitro. The observation that lymph nodes are a site of viral persistence suggests that lymphatic ECs (LECs) might be even more relevant for HHV-6 biology than vascular ECs. Here, we provide evidence that HHV-6 can infect LECs in vitro and establish a latent infection. Thus HHV-6 infection induces the loss of angiogenic properties both in LECs and in vascular ECs, as shown by the inability to form capillary-like structures and to seal wound scratches. The antiangiogenic effects observed in infected cells are associated to the expression of HHV-6 U94/rep, a latency-associated gene. In fact, transfection of U94/rep or addition of recombinant U94/REP protein to ECs inhibits the formation of in vitro capillary-like structures, reduces migration of ECs, and blocks angiogenesis, rendering rat aortic rings insensitive to VEGF-induced vasculogenetic activity. The ability of U94/rep to block different angiogenetic steps may lead to approaches in the potential control of the proliferation of blood and lymphatic vessels.

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