PAN RNA: Transcriptional exhaust from a viral engine

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3 Scopus citations


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also designated human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), has been linked to Kaposi's sarcoma, as well as to primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and a subset of multicentric Castleman's disease. KSHV genomes are maintained as episomes within infected cells and the virus exhibits a biphasic life cycle consisting of a life-long latent phase during which only a few viral genes are expressed and no viral progeny are produced and a transient lytic reactivation phase, in which a full repertoire of ~ 80 lytic genes are activated in a temporally regulated manner culminating in the release of new virions. Lytic replication is initiated by a single viral protein, K-Rta (ORF50), which activates more than 80 viral genes from multiple resident viral episomes (i.e., viral chromosomes). One of the major targets of K-Rta is a long non-coding nuclear RNA, PAN RNA (polyadenylated nuclear RNA), a lncRNA that accumulates to exceedingly high levels in the nucleus during viral reactivation. K-Rta directly binds to the PAN RNA promoter and robustly activates PAN RNA expression. Although PAN RNA has been known for over 20 years, its role in viral replication is still incompletely understood. In this perspective, we will briefly review the current understanding of PAN RNA and then describe our current working model of this RNA. The model is based on our observations concerning events that occur during KSHV lytic reactivation including (i) a marked accumulation of RNA Pol II at the PAN promoter, (ii) genomic looping emanating from the PAN locus, (iii) interaction of a second viral lytic protein (ORF57) with K-Rta, PAN RNA and RNA Pol II, (iv) the essential requirement for PAN RNA expression in cis for optimal transcriptional execution needed for the entire lytic program, and (v) ORF57 recruitment of RNA Pol II to the PAN genomic locus. Together our results generate a model in which the PAN locus serves as a hub for sequestration/trapping of the cellular transcriptional machinery proximal to viral episomes. Sequestration at the PAN locus facilitates high levels of viral transcription throughout the viral genome during lytic replication. ORF57 acts as a transcription-dependent transactivator at the PAN locus by binding to both Rta and PAN to locally trap RNA Pol II. The resulting accumulation of high levels of nuclear PAN RNA created by this process is an inducible enhancer-derived (eRNA) by-product that litters the infected cell nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number41
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2020


  • Chromatin looping
  • eRNAs
  • Herpesvirus
  • Non-coding RNA
  • RNA pol II recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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