Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/human herpesvirus 8) is a γ-herpesvirus linked to Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and two lymphoproliferative disorders, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL or body-cavity B-lymphoma [BCBL]) and a subset of Multicentric Castleman’s Disease. During lytic growth, pervasive viral transcription generating a variety of transcripts with uncertain protein-coding potential has been described on a genome-wide scale in β- and γ-herpesviruses. One class of such RNAs is called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). KSHV encodes a viral lncRNA known as polyadenylated nuclear RNA (PAN RNA), a copious early gene product. PAN RNA has been implicated in KSHV gene expression, replication, and immune modulation. PAN RNA expression is required for optimal expression of the entire KSHV lytic gene expression program. Latent KSHV episomes are coated with viral latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA). LANA rapidly dissociates from episomes during reactivation. Here we review recent studies suggesting that PAN RNA may function as a viral lncRNA, including a role in the facilitation of LANA-episomal dissociation during lytic replication.
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