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J Virol. 2008 Dec;82(23):11902-12. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01042-08. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus disrupts adherens junctions and increases endothelial permeability by inducing degradation of VE-cadherin.

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Tumor Virology Program, Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a vascular tumor of proliferative endothelial cells caused by KS-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection. Aberrant vascular permeability is a hallmark of KS manifested as multifocal edematous skin and visceral lesions with dysregulated angiogenesis and vast inflammatory infiltrations. In this study, we showed that KSHV infection increased the permeability of confluent endothelial monolayers to serum albumin, blood-derived cells, KSHV-infected cells, and KSHV virions. KSHV-induced permeability was associated with the disruption of adherens junctions and the degradation of vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) protein. Both the inactivation of KSHV virions by UV irradiation and the blockage of de novo protein synthesis with cycloheximide failed to reverse the KSHV-induced disruption of adherens junctions. However, soluble heparin that blocked KSHV entry into cells completely inhibited KSHV-induced permeability. Furthermore, the KSHV-induced degradation of VE-cadherin was dose dependent on the internalized virus particles. Together, these results indicate that KSHV infection induces vascular permeability by inducing VE-cadherin degradation during virus entry into cells. KSHV-induced aberrant vascular permeability could facilitate virus spread, promote inflammation and angiogenesis, and contribute to the pathogenesis of KSHV-induced malignancies.

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