Nature medicine

The ephrin receptor tyrosine kinase A2 is a cellular receptor for Kaposi's sarcoma–associated herpesvirus.

PMID 22635007


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma(1), a highly vascularized tumor originating from lymphatic endothelial cells, and of at least two different B cell malignancies(2,3). A dimeric complex formed by the envelope glycoproteins H and L (gH-gL) is required for entry of herpesviruses into host cells(4). We show that the ephrin receptor tyrosine kinase A2 (EphA2) is a cellular receptor for KSHV gH-gL. EphA2 co-precipitated with both gH-gL and KSHV virions. Infection of human epithelial cells with a GFP-expressing recombinant KSHV strain, as measured by FACS analysis, was increased upon overexpression of EphA2. Antibodies against EphA(2) and siRNAs directed against EphA2 inhibited infection of endothelial cells. Pretreatment of KSHV with soluble EphA2 resulted in inhibition of KSHV infection by up to 90%. This marked reduction of KSHV infection was seen with all the different epithelial and endothelial cells used in this study. Similarly, pretreating epithelial or endothelial cells with the soluble EphA2 ligand ephrinA4 impaired KSHV infection. Deletion of the gene encoding EphA2 essentially abolished KSHV infection of mouse endothelial cells. Binding of gH-gL to EphA2 triggered EphA2 phosphorylation and endocytosis, a major pathway of KSHV entry(5,6). Quantitative RT-PCR and in situ histochemistry revealed a close correlation between KSHV infection and EphA2 expression both in cultured cells derived from human Kaposi's sarcoma lesions or unaffected human lymphatic endothelium, and in situ in Kaposi's sarcoma specimens, respectively. Taken together, our results identify EphA2, a tyrosine kinase with known functions in neovascularization and oncogenesis, as an entry receptor for KSHV.