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J Virol. 2003 Sep;77(17):9346-58.

Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and NF-kappaB pathways by a Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus K15 membrane protein.

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Institut für Virologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, D-30625 Hannover, Germany.


The K15 gene of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (also known as human herpesvirus 8) consists of eight alternatively spliced exons and has been predicted to encode membrane proteins with a variable number of transmembrane regions and a common C-terminal cytoplasmic domain with putative binding sites for SH2 and SH3 domains, as well as for tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factors. These features are reminiscent of the latent membrane proteins LMP-1 and LMP2A of Epstein-Barr virus and, more distantly, of the STP, Tip, and Tio proteins of the related gamma(2)-herpesviruses herpesvirus saimiri and herpesvirus ateles. These viral membrane proteins can activate a number of intracellular signaling pathways. We have therefore examined the abilities of different K15-encoded proteins to initiate intracellular signaling. We found that a 45-kDa K15 protein derived from all eight K15 exons and containing 12 predicted transmembrane domains in addition to the cytoplasmic domain activated the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-kappaB pathways, as well as (more weakly) the c-Jun N-terminal kinase/SAPK pathway. Activation of the MAPK and NF-kappaB pathways required phosphorylation of tyrosine residue 481 within a putative SH2-binding site (YEEVL). This motif was phosphorylated by the tyrosine kinases Src, Lck, Yes, Hck, and Fyn. The region containing the YEEVL motif interacted with tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF-2), and a dominant negative TRAF-2 mutant inhibited the K15-mediated activation of the Ras/MAPK pathway, suggesting the involvement of TRAF-2 in the initiation of these signaling routes. In contrast, several smaller K15 protein isoforms activated these pathways only weakly. All of the K15 isoforms tested were, however, localized in lipid rafts, suggesting that incorporation into lipid rafts is not sufficient to initiate signaling. Additional regions of K15, located presumably in exons 2 to 5, may therefore contribute to the activation of these pathways. These findings illustrate that the 45-kDa K15 protein engages pathways similar to LMP1, LMP2A, STP, Tip, and Tio but combines functional features that are separated between LMP1 and LMP2A or STP and Tip.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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