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Blood. 2013 Apr 11;121(15):2952-63. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-03-415620. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Viral latency locus augments B-cell response in vivo to induce chronic marginal zone enlargement, plasma cell hyperplasia, and lymphoma.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for AIDS Research, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is associated with KS-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). This virus also causes B-cell lymphoma and B-cell hyperplasia. There exists no in vivo model for KSHV-associated B-cell malignancies or premalignant persistence in B cells. We generated a transgenic mouse that expresses multiple viral latent genes, including LANA, vFLIP, vCYC, all viral micro RNAs, and kaposin under the transcriptional control of their natural regulatory region. This promoter is B-cell specific, though it is a weak promoter. Mature B cells were chronically activated, leading to hyperglobulinemia triggered by increased plasma cell frequency and marginal zone (MZ) B-cell hyperplasia. The mice had an augmented response to T-dependent antigen as well as the TLR4 ligand LPS, leading to exacerbated MZ and germinal center responses and increased CD138(+) plasma cells. It is the first model to assess the viral micro RNA function in vivo. These data support a potentially novel mechanism of viral persistence in which virally infected B cells become hyper-responsive to coincident, but unrelated, pathogen exposure, leading to preferential expansion and ultimately lymphoma in a small subset of cases.

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