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J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 19;277(16):13745-51. Epub 2002 Feb 5.

The human herpes virus 8-encoded viral FLICE inhibitory protein physically associates with and persistently activates the Ikappa B kinase complex.

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  • 1Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-8593, USA.


The human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8, also called Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus) has been linked to Kaposi's sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) in immunocompromised individuals. We demonstrate that PEL cell lines have a constitutively active NF-kappaB pathway, which is associated with persistent phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha. To elucidate the mechanism of NF-kappaB activation in PEL cell lines, we have investigated the role of viral FLICE inhibitory protein (vFLIP) in this process. We report that stable expression of HHV8 vFLIP in a variety of cell lines is associated with persistent NF-kappaB activation caused by constitutive phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha. HHV8 vFLIP gets recruited to a approximately 700-kDa IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex and physically associates with IKKalpha, IKKbeta, NEMO/IKKgamma, and RIP. HHV8 vFLIP is incapable of activating NF-kappaB in cells deficient in NEMO/IKKgamma, thereby suggesting an essential role of an intact IKK complex in this process. Our results suggest that HHV8 vFLIP might contribute to the persistent NF-kappaB activation observed in PEL cells by associating with and stimulating the activity of the cellular IKK complex.

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