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Virology. 2012 Jul 5;428(2):112-20. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2012.03.013. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

The KSHV viral IL-6 homolog is sufficient to induce blood to lymphatic endothelial cell differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


The predominant tumor cell of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS) is the spindle cell, a cell of endothelial origin that expresses markers of lymphatic endothelium. In culture, Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection of blood endothelial cells drives expression of lymphatic endothelial cell specific markers, in a process that requires activation of the gp130 receptor and the JAK2/STAT3 and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. While expression of each of the KSHV major latent genes in endothelial cells failed to increase expression of lymphatic markers, the viral homolog of human IL-6 (vIL-6) was sufficient for induction and requires the JAK2/STAT3 and PI3K/AKT pathways. Therefore, activation of gp130 and downstream signaling by vIL-6 is sufficient to drive blood to lymphatic endothelial cell differentiation. While sufficient, vIL-6 is not necessary for lymphatic reprogramming in the context of viral infection. This indicates that multiple viral genes are involved and suggests a central importance of this pathway to KSHV pathogenesis.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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