Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a mesenchymal tumour, which is caused by Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) and develops under inflammatory conditions. KSHV-infected endothelial spindle cells, the neoplastic cells in KS, show increased invasiveness, attributed to the elevated expression of metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The majority of these spindle cells harbour latent KSHV genomes, while a minority undergoes lytic reactivation with subsequent production of new virions and viral or cellular chemo- and cytokines, which may promote tumour invasion and dissemination. In order to better understand KSHV pathogenesis, we investigated cellular mechanisms underlying the lytic reactivation of KSHV. Using a combination of small molecule library screening and siRNA silencing we found a STE20 kinase family member, MAP4K4, to be involved in KSHV reactivation from latency and to contribute to the invasive phenotype of KSHV-infected endothelial cells by regulating COX-2, MMP-7, and MMP-13 expression. This kinase is also highly expressed in KS spindle cells in vivo. These findings suggest that MAP4K4, a known mediator of inflammation, is involved in KS aetiology by regulating KSHV lytic reactivation, expression of MMPs and COX-2, and, thereby modulating invasiveness of KSHV-infected endothelial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology