Chloroquine inhibits lytic replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus by disrupting mTOR and p38-MAPK activation

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Lytic infection is essential for the persistent infection and pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and inhibiting KSHV lytic replication may effectively prevent the occurrence of KSHV-related diseases. Chloroquine (CQ), a well-known antimalarial drug and autophagy inhibitor, exerts broad-spectrum antiviral effects and shows anti-cancer therapeutic potential. However, the ability of CQ and its derivatives to control infection of oncogenic γ-herpesvirus remains undefined. Here we reveal that CQ suppresses KSHV lytic gene expression and virion production, and shows cytotoxicity toward KSHV lytically infected B cells at clinically acceptable doses. CQ suppresses mTOR and p38-MAPK pathway activation during KSHV lytic replication but not latent infection. Furthermore, CQ blocks Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic replication via a distinct mechanism that is invoked to block virion production but does not affect viral gene expression. These results suggest that CQ is an effective antiviral drug against KSHV lytic infection. Our findings indicate that CQ treatment should be considered for controlling KSHV-related diseases, particularly for primary use in co-infection of KSHV with malaria.

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