A Computational Profiling of Changes in Gene Expression and Transcription Factors Induced by vFLIP K13 in Primary Effusion Lymphoma

<div><p>Infection with Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) has been linked to the development of primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), a rare lymphoproliferative disorder that is characterized by loss of expression of most B cell markers and effusions in the body cavities. This unique clinical presentation of PEL has been attributed to their distinctive plasmablastic gene expression profile that shows overexpression of genes involved in inflammation, adhesion and invasion. KSHV-encoded latent protein vFLIP K13 has been previously shown to promote the survival and proliferation of PEL cells. In this study, we employed gene array analysis to characterize the effect of K13 on global gene expression in PEL-derived BCBL1 cells, which express negligible K13 endogenously. We demonstrate that K13 upregulates the expression of a number of NF-κB responsive genes involved in cytokine signaling, cell death, adhesion, inflammation and immune response, including two NF-κB subunits involved in the alternate NF-κB pathway, RELB and NFKB2. In contrast, CD19, a B cell marker, was one of the genes downregulated by K13. A comparison with K13-induced genes in human vascular endothelial cells revealed that although there was a considerable overlap among the genes induced by K13 in the two cell types, chemokines genes were preferentially induced in HUVEC with few exceptions, such as RANTES/CCL5, which was induced in both cell types. Functional studies confirmed that K13 activated the RANTES/CCL5 promoter through the NF-κB pathway. Taken collectively, our results suggest that K13 may contribute to the unique gene expression profile, immunophenotype and clinical presentation that are characteristics of KSHV-associated PEL.</p> </div>