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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2001 Apr 29;356(1408):499-516.

Molecular virology of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

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School of Public Health and Department of Pathology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the most recently discovered human tumour virus, is the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma and some forms of Castleman's disease. KSHV is a rhadinovirus, and like other rhadinoviruses, it has an extensive array of regulatory genes obtained from the host cell genome. These pirated KSHV proteins include homologues to cellular CD21, three different beta-chemokines, IL-6, BCL-2, several different interferon regulatory factor homologues, Fas-ligand ICE inhibitory protein (FLIP), cyclin D and a G-protein-coupled receptor, as well as DNA synthetic enzymes including thymidylate synthase, dihydrofolate reductase, DNA polymerase, thymidine kinase and ribonucleotide reductases. Despite marked differences between KSHV and Epstein-Barr virus, both viruses target many of the same cellular pathways, but use different strategies to achieve the same effects. KSHV proteins have been identified which inhibit cell-cycle regulation checkpoints, apoptosis control mechanisms and the immune response regulatory machinery. Inhibition of these cellular regulatory networks app ears to be a defensive means of allowing the virus to escape from innate antiviral immune responses. However, due to the overlapping nature of innate immune and tumour-suppressor pathways, inhibition of these regulatory networks can lead to unregulated cell proliferation and may contribute to virus-induced tumorigenesis.

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