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Science. 2002 Nov 15;298(5597):1432-5.

Viral IL-6-induced cell proliferation and immune evasion of interferon activity.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Lymphoma cells infected with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus are autocrine dependent on virus-derived interleukin-6 (IL-6), but not on cellular IL-6. During viral infection, host cells induce the antiviral factor interferon (IFN) to up-regulate p21, initiate cell cycle arrest, and inhibit virus replication. Viral IL-6, however, blocks IFN signaling. A viral transcriptional program exists in which only the viral IL-6 gene is directly activated by IFN-alpha, allowing the virus to modify its cellular environment by sensing and responding to levels of intracellular IFN signaling. The human cytokine cannot mimic this effect because IFN-alpha down-regulates the IL-6 receptor, gp80. Viral IL-6 bypasses the gp80 regulatory checkpoint by binding directly to the gp130 transducer molecule, resulting in tumor cell autocrine dependence on the viral cytokine for proliferation and survival.

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