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Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Mar;6(3):1180-9.

Characterization of signaling cascades triggered by human interleukin-6 versus Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus-encoded viral interleukin 6.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) is associated with Kaposi's sarcoma, multicentric Castleman's disease, and body cavity-based lymphomas, settings in which human interleukin-6 (hIL-6) acts as a growth factor. The KSHV open reading frame K2 encodes for viral IL-6 (vIL-6), a protein with 25% amino acid identity to hIL-6, which can promote the growth of hIL-6-dependent cell lines. In the present study, we characterized biological sequelae and signaling cascades triggered by hIL-6 versus vIL-6 in the hIL-6-dependent MH60 and B9 cell lines. Both hIL-6 and vIL-6 induced significant increases (P < 0.01) in DNA synthesis in these cell lines in a dose-dependent fashion. Neutralizing anti-hIL-6 antibody (Ab) inhibited DNA synthesis triggered by hIL-6, without similarly affecting proliferation in response to vIL-6. On the other hand, antimouse IL-6 receptor (mIL-6R) Ab blocked response to vIL-6, but not that to hIL-6. Both hIL-6 and vIL-6 activated gp130, Janus kinase 1, signal transducers and activators of transcription-3, and mitogen-activated protein kinase in both MH60 and B9 cells. Proliferation of these cell lines in response to both hIL-6 and vIL-6 was blocked by PD98059, an inhibitor of MEK1 activation. These data suggest that MEK1 activation mediates the proliferative response to both cytokines. Finally, both hIL-6 and vIL-6 also maintained viability of serum-starved MH60 and B9 cells and blocked dexamethasone-induced apoptosis of MM.1S human myeloma cells. Further characterization of the signaling cascades mediating the growth and antiapoptotic effects of vIL-6 versus hIL-6 may help identify their unique roles in disease pathogenesis in Kaposi's sarcoma and other KSHV-associated neoplasms.

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