Journal of virology

Binding of the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus to the ephrin binding surface of the EphA2 receptor and its inhibition by a small molecule.

PMID 24899181


The ephrin receptor tyrosine kinase A2 (EphA2) is an entry receptor for Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) that is engaged by the virus through its gH/gL glycoprotein complex. We describe here that natural ephrin ligands inhibit the gH/gL-EphA2 interaction. The effects of point mutations within EphA2 demonstrated that KSHV gH/gL interacts with EphA2 through a restricted set of the same residues that mediate binding of A-type ephrins. Two previously described inhibitors of the EphA2 interaction with ephrin A5 also inhibited binding of KSHV gH/gL to EphA2. The more potent of the two compounds inhibited KSHV infection of blood vessel and lymphatic endothelial cells in the micromolar concentration range. Our results demonstrate that interaction of KSHV with EphA2 occurs in a fashion similar to that of the natural ephrin ligands. Our data further indicate a new avenue for drug development against KSHV. Our study reports two important findings. First, we show that KSHV engages its receptor, the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2, at a site that overlaps the binding site of the natural ephrin ligands. Second, we demonstrate that KSHV infection of target cells can be blocked by a small-molecule inhibitor of the viral glycoprotein-EphA2 interaction. These findings represent a novel avenue for the development of strategies to treat KSHV-associated diseases.