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Oncogene. 2007 Mar 8;26(11):1656-60. Epub 2006 Aug 28.

Induction of spindle cell morphology in human vascular endothelial cells by human herpesvirus 8-encoded viral FLICE inhibitory protein K13.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology and the Hillman Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1863, USA.


Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), also known as Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, is linked to the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, a disease characterized by the presence of distinctive proliferating spindle-like cells. Although HHV8 can induce spindle cell transformation of vascular endothelial cells in vitro, the viral gene(s) responsible for this phenotype remain to be identified. We demonstrate that expression of HHV8-encoded viral Fas-associated death domain protein-like IL-1beta-converting enzyme inhibitory protein K13 is sufficient to induce spindle cell phenotype in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), which is associated with the activation of the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway and can be blocked by Bay-11-7082, a specific inhibitor of this pathway. K13 induces the expression of several genes known to be upregulated in HHV8-transformed vascular endothelial cells, such as interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, CXC ligand 3 (CXCL3), orphan G protein coupled receptor (RDC1), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and dual-specificity phosphatase 5 (DUSP5). Furthermore, similar to K13, HHV8-induced spindle cell transformation of HUVEC is associated with NF-kappaB activation and can be blocked by Bay-11-7082. Thus, ectopic expression of a single latent gene of HHV8 is sufficient for the acquisition of spindle cell phenotype by vascular endothelial cells and NF-kappaB activation plays an essential role in this process.

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