PLoS Pathogens (Jul 2021)

Inhibition of polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) facilitates reactivation of gamma-herpesviruses and their elimination.

  • Ayan Biswas,
  • Dawei Zhou,
  • Guillaume N Fiches,
  • Zhenyu Wu,
  • Xuefeng Liu,
  • Qin Ma,
  • Weiqiang Zhao,
  • Jian Zhu,
  • Netty G Santoso

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 17, no. 7
p. e1009764


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Both Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) establish the persistent, life-long infection primarily at the latent status, and associate with certain types of tumors, such as B cell lymphomas, especially in immuno-compromised individuals including people living with HIV (PLWH). Lytic reactivation of these viruses can be employed to kill tumor cells harboring latently infected viral episomes through the viral cytopathic effects and the subsequent antiviral immune responses. In this study, we identified that polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is induced by KSHV de novo infection as well as lytic switch from KSHV latency. We further demonstrated that PLK1 depletion or inhibition facilitates KSHV reactivation and promotes cell death of KSHV-infected lymphoma cells. Mechanistically, PLK1 regulates Myc that is critical to both maintenance of KSHV latency and support of cell survival, and preferentially affects the level of H3K27me3 inactive mark both globally and at certain loci of KSHV viral episomes. Furthremore, we recognized that PLK1 inhibition synergizes with STAT3 inhibition to efficiently induce KSHV reactivation. We also confirmed that PLK1 depletion or inhibition yields the similar effect on EBV lytic reactivation and cell death of EBV-infected lymphoma cells. Lastly, we noticed that PLK1 in B cells is elevated in the context of HIV infection and caused by HIV Nef protein to favor KSHV/EBV latency.