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Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus stably clusters its genomes across generations to maintain itself extrachromosomally.

Chiu Y.F., Sugden A.U., Fox K., Hayes M., Sugden B.

Genetic elements that replicate extrachromosomally are rare in mammals; however, several human tumor viruses, including the papillomaviruses and the gammaherpesviruses, maintain their plasmid genomes by tethering them to cellular chromosomes. We have uncovered an unprecedented mechanism of viral replication: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) stably clusters its genomes across generations to maintain itself extrachromosomally. To identify and characterize this mechanism, we developed two complementary, independent approaches: live-cell imaging and a predictive computational model. The clustering of KSHV requires the viral protein, LANA1, to bind viral genomes to nucleosomes arrayed on both cellular and viral DNA. Clustering affects both viral partitioning and viral genome numbers of KSHV. The clustering of KSHV plasmids provides it with an effective evolutionary strategy to rapidly increase copy numbers of genomes per cell at the expense of the total numbers of cells infected.

J. Cell Biol. 216:2745-2758(2017) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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