The Lagunoff lab is interested in how viruses cause cancer. We work on how the herpesvirus, Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV also known as HHV-8) alters endothelial cells to cause Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS). The lab is focused on how KSHV alters the host cell metabolism and oncogenic signaling to induce KS. KS is the most common tumor of AIDS patients world-wide and is the most common tumor reported in parts of central Africa. The main tumor cell of KS is of endothelial origin. KSHV infection is required for KS formation and the virus is found predominantly in the latent state in the KS tumor cells. Using endothelial cell systems we analyze how KSHV alters host endothelial cell signal transduction, transcription patterns and metabolism and how these changes might lead to tumor formation. We have utilized RNAseq, metabolomics, proteomics and other techniques to identify global changes in host cell gene expression and signaling and have used these to identify key pathways induced by the virus. We have a grant focused on how KSHV induces angiogenic and lymphangiogenic pathways to activate cells supporting latent KSHV infection. We also have a grant to study how KSHV alters host cell metabolism to mimic cancer cell metabolism. The lab is also interested in identifying cellular pathways required for the survival of latnetly infected cells with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic avenues for KS tumors.
Dr. Lagunoff received his bachelors degree in Chemistry from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in Virology from the University of Chicago. He went on to do his post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco where he began work on the molecular virology of Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV).