Molecular genetics of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (human herpesvirus 8) epidemiology and pathogenesis

Lyubomir A. Dourmishev, Assen L. Dourmishev, Diana Palmeri, Robert A. Schwartz, David M. Lukac

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


Kaposi's sarcoma had been recognized as unique human cancer for a century before it manifested as an AIDS-defining illness with a suspected infectious etiology. The discovery of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus-8, in 1994 by using representational difference analysis, a subtractive method previously employed for cloning differences in human genomic DNA, was a fitting harbinger for the powerful bioinformatic approaches since employed to understand its pathogenesis in KS. Indeed, the discovery of KSHV was rapidly followed by publication of its complete sequence, which revealed that the virus had coopted a wide armamentarium of human genes; in the short time since then, the functions of many of these viral gene variants in cell growth control, signaling apoptosis, angiogenesis, and immunomodulation have been characterized. This critical literature review explores the pathogenic potential of these genes within the framework of current knowledge of the basic herpesvirology of KSHK, including the relationships between viral genotypic variation and the four clinicoepidemiologic forms of Kaposi's sarcoma, current viral detection methods and their utility, primary infection by KSHV, tissue culture and animal models of latent- and lytic-cycle gene expression and pathogenesis, and viral reactivation from latency. Recent advances in models of de novo endothelial infection, microarray analyses of the host response to infection, receptor identification, and cloning of full-length, infectious KSHV genomic DNA promise to reveal key molecular mechanisms of the candidate pathogeneic genes when expressed in the context of viral infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-212
Number of pages38
JournalMicrobiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


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