PLoS pathogens

Cross-species conservation of episome maintenance provides a basis for in vivo investigation of Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus LANA.

PMID 28910389


Many pathogens, including Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), lack tractable small animal models. KSHV persists as a multi-copy, nuclear episome in latently infected cells. KSHV latency-associated nuclear antigen (kLANA) binds viral terminal repeat (kTR) DNA to mediate episome persistence. Model pathogen murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) mLANA acts analogously on mTR DNA. kLANA and mLANA differ substantially in size and kTR and mTR show little sequence conservation. Here, we find kLANA and mLANA act reciprocally to mediate episome persistence of TR DNA. Further, kLANA rescued mLANA deficient MHV68, enabling a chimeric virus to establish latent infection in vivo in germinal center B cells. The level of chimeric virus in vivo latency was moderately reduced compared to WT infection, but WT or chimeric MHV68 infected cells had similar viral genome copy numbers as assessed by immunofluorescence of LANA intranuclear dots or qPCR. Thus, despite more than 60 Ma of evolutionary divergence, mLANA and kLANA act reciprocally on TR DNA, and kLANA functionally substitutes for mLANA, allowing kLANA investigation in vivo. Analogous chimeras may allow in vivo investigation of genes of other human pathogens.