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). 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. Through a better understanding of how KSHV latent infection alters endothelial cells we hope to better understand how the virus causes KS and believe these studies will lead to novel therapeutic avenues to target latently infected cells and 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).