Latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) is encoded by the Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) open reading frame 73. LANA is expressed during latent KSHV infection of cells, including tumor cells, such as primary effusion lymphoma, KS and multicentric Castleman's disease. Latently infected cells have multiple extrachromosomal copies of covalently closed circular KSHV genomes (episomes) that are stably maintained in proliferating cells. LANA's best characterized function is that of mediating episome persistence. It does so by binding terminal repeat sequences to the chromosomal matrix, thus ensuring episome replication with each cell division and efficient DNA segregation to daughter nuclei after mitosis. To achieve these functions, LANA associates with different host cell proteins, including chromatin-associated proteins and proteins involved in DNA replication. In addition to episome maintenance, LANA has transcriptional regulatory effects and affects cell growth. LANA exerts these functions through interactions with different cell proteins. © 2011 Future Medicine Ltd.