Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Drives a Super-Enhancer-Mediated Survival Gene Expression Program in Primary Effusion Lymphoma

mBio. 2020 Aug 25;11(4):e01457-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01457-20.


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) causes primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). The cellular transcription factor (TF) interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) is an essential oncogene in PEL, but its specific role in PEL and how KSHV deregulates IRF4 remain unknown. Here, we report that the KSHV latency protein viral interferon regulatory factor 3 (vIRF3) cooperates with IRF4 and cellular BATF (basic leucine zipper ATF-like TF) to drive a super-enhancer (SE)-mediated oncogenic transcriptional program in PEL. Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with next-generation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) experiments demonstrated that IRF4, vIRF3, and BATF cooccupy the SEs of key survival genes, in a pattern that is distinct from those seen with other IRF4-driven malignancies. All three proteins cooperatively drive SE-mediated IRF4 overexpression. Inactivation of vIRF3 and, to a lesser extent, BATF phenocopies the gene expression changes and loss of cellular viability observed upon inactivation of IRF4. In sum, this work suggests that KSHV vIRF3 and cellular IRF4 and BATF cooperate as oncogenic transcription factors on SEs to promote cellular survival and proliferation in KSHV-associated lymphomas.IMPORTANCE Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) causes the aggressive disease primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). Here, we show that a viral transcription factor (vIRF3) cooperates with the cellular transcription factor IRF4 to control an oncogenic gene expression program in PEL cells. These proteins promote KSHV-mediated B cell transformation by activating the expression of prosurvival genes through super-enhancers. Our report thus demonstrates that this DNA tumor virus encodes a transcription factor that functions with cellular IRF4 to drive oncogenic transcriptional reprogramming.

Keywords: EBNA3C; EBV; HBZ; HTLV-1; IRF4; KSHV; LANA2; master transcription factor; primary effusion lymphoma; super-enhancer; transcriptional reprogramming; vIRF3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Interferon Regulatory Factors / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Primary Effusion / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Primary Effusion / virology*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / genetics*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / virology*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Virus Latency


  • Interferon Regulatory Factors
  • Viral Proteins
  • interferon regulatory factor-4
  • viral interferon regulatory factors