Use of the red fluorescent protein as a marker of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus lytic gene expression

Virology. 2004 Aug 1;325(2):225-40. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2004.03.049.


A hallmark of all herpesvirus is the ability to exist in either a latent, or lytic, state of replication, enabling the lifelong infection of its host. Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) can efficiently establish a latent infection in a variety of cell types in vitro, making it a valuable model for the study of latency and reactivation. To facilitate the identification of KSHV lytic replication, and allow subsequent experiments with live cells, a recombinant virus, rKSHV.219, was constructed using JSC-1 cells that expresses the red fluorescent protein (RFP) from the KSHV lytic PAN promoter, the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the EF-1alpha promoter, and with the gene for puromycin resistance as a selectable marker. rKSHV.219 from JSC-1 cells was used to infect Vero cells for purification of the recombinant virus. Vero cells were also used for the production of rKSHV.219 at levels of 10(5)-10(6) infectious units (IU) of virus per milliliter using a combination of KSHV/RTA expressed from a baculovirus vector, BacK50, and butyrate. Virus produced from Vero cells was used to infect human fibroblasts (HF), 293, DU145, T24, HaCaT, and HEp-2 cells, and in all cells except 293 cells, only a latent infection was established with GFP expression, but no RFP expression. In 293 cells, 10-15% of cells showed lytic gene expression. Both primary and immortalized microvascular endothelial cells (MVEC) were also infected with rKSHV.219, and reduced spontaneous lytic replication was found in immortalized cells. In all cells used in this study, rKSHV.219 efficiently established latent infections from which the virus could be reactivated to productive lytic replication. This work also demonstrated strong synergy between KSHV/RTA and butyrate for the activation of KSHV lytic replication and the production of infectious virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / genetics*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / pathogenicity
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / physiology
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Replication


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • red fluorescent protein