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Oncogene. 2003 May 29;22(22):3371-85.

Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus encoded vFLIP induces cellular IL-6 expression: the role of the NF-kappaB and JNK/AP1 pathways.

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Department of Medicine, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA.


The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) encodes a FADD-like interferon converting enzyme or caspase 8 (FLICE) inhibitory protein (vFLIP) that prevents death receptor-mediated apoptosis by inhibiting the recruitment and activation of FLICE. Since vFLIP physically interacts with tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and TRAF2 mediates activation of the jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK)/activation protein 1 (AP1) pathway, we hypothesized that vFLIP might also activate this pathway. To evaluate this hypothesis, we transiently and stably transfected a vFLIP expression construct and performed several complementary assays to document that vFLIP activates the JNK/AP1 pathway and does so in a TRAF-dependent fashion. As vFLIP also activates the nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) signaling pathway and the NF-kappaB and JNK/AP1 pathways both modulate cellular interleukin-6 (cIL-6) expression, we postulated that vFLIP induces expression of this cytokine. We show that vFLIP induces cIL-6 expression and activates the cIL-6 promoter, and maximal activation of the cIL-6 promoter by vFLIP requires NF-kappaB and AP1 activation. In addition, vFLIP and latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA), another KSHV-encoded latent protein, potentiate each other's ability to activate the cIL-6 promoter. Gene silencing experiments by RNA interference demonstrate that vFLIP in BCBL-1 endogenously infected primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells mediates JNK/AP1 activation and cIL-6 expression. Thus, we conclude that vFLIP, in addition to its known effects on NF-kappaB activation, also modulates the JNK/AP1 pathway and induces gene expression from the cIL-6 promoter in a JNK/AP1-dependent fashion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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