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Kaposi sarcoma (KS) herpesvirus (KSHV) infection of endothelial cells (EC) is associated with strong induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a stress-inducible host gene that encodes the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for heme catabolism. KS is an angioproliferative tumor characterized by the proliferation of KSHV-infected spindle cells, and HO-1 is highly expressed in such cells. HO-1 converts the pro-oxidant, proinflammatory heme molecule into metabolites with antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and proliferative activities. Previously published work has shown that KSHV-infected EC in vitro proliferate in response to free heme in a HO-1-dependent manner, thus implicating virus-enhanced HO-1 activity in KS tumorigenesis. The present study investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying KSHV induction of HO-1 in lymphatic EC (LEC), which are the likely spindle cell precursors. In a time course analysis of KSHV-infected cells, HO-1 expression displays biphasic kinetics characterized by an early transient induction that is followed by a more sustained upregulation coincident with the establishment of viral latency. A viral microRNA miR-K12-11 deletion mutant of KSHV was found to be defective for induction of HO-1 during latency. A potential mechanism for this phenotype was provided by BACH1, a cellular HO-1 transcriptional repressor targeted by miR-K12-11. In fact, in KSHV-infected LEC, the BACH1 message level is reduced, BACH1 subcellular localization is altered, and miR-K12-11 mediates the inverse regulation of HO-1 and BACH1 during viral latency. Interestingly, the data indicate that neither miR-K12-11 nor de novo KSHV gene expression is required for the burst of HO-1 expression observed at early times postinfection, which suggests that additional virion components promote this phenotype.


This article was originally published in mBio, volume 6, issue 3, in 2015. DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00668-15


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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