Polyomavirus-associated trichodysplasia spinulosa involves hyperproliferation, pRB phosphorylation and upregulation of p16 and p21

Siamaque Kazem, Els Van Der Meijden, Richard C. Wang, Arlene S. Rosenberg, Elena Pope, Taylor Benoit, Philip Fleckman, Mariet C W Feltkamp

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32 Scopus citations


Trichodysplasia spinulosa (TS) is a proliferative skin disease observed in severely immunocompromized patients. It is characterized by papule and trichohyalin-rich spicule formation, epidermal acanthosis and distention of dysmorphic hair follicles overpopulated by inner root sheath cells (IRS). TS probably results from active infection with the TS-associated polyomavirus (TSPyV), as indicated by high viral-load, virus protein expression and particle formation. The underlying pathogenic mechanism imposed by TSPyV infection has not been solved yet. By analogy with other polyomaviruses, such as the Merkel cell polyomavirus associated with Merkel cell carcinoma, we hypothesized that TSPyV T-antigen promotes proliferation of infected IRS cells. Therefore, we analyzed TS biopsy sections for markers of cell proliferation (Ki-67) and cell cycle regulation (p16ink4a, p21waf, pRB, phosphorylated pRB), and the putatively transforming TSPyV early large tumor (LT) antigen. Intense Ki-67 staining was detected especially in the margins of TS hair follicles, which colocalized with TSPyV LT-antigen detection. In this area, staining was also noted for pRB and particularly phosphorylated pRB, as well as p16ink4a and p21waf. Healthy control hair follicles did not or hardly stained for these markers. Trichohyalin was particularly detected in the center of TS follicles that stained negative for Ki-67 and TSPyV LT-antigen. In summary, we provide evidence for clustering of TSPyV LT-antigen-expressing and proliferating cells in the follicle margins that overproduce negative cell cycle regulatory proteins. These data are compatible with a scenario of TSPyV T-antigen-mediated cell cycle progression, potentially creating a pool of proliferating cells that enable viral DNA replication and drive papule and spicule formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere108947
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 7 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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