The ORF74 or vGCR gene encoded by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV; also called human herpesvirus 8) has properties of a ligand-independent membrane receptor signaling protein with angiogenic properties that is predicted to play a key role in the biology of the virus. We have examined the expression of vGCR mRNA and protein in primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cell lines, PEL and multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD) tumors, Kaposi's sarcoma lesions and infected endothelial cell cultures. The vGCR gene proved to be expressed in PEL cell lines as a large spliced bicistronic mRNA of 3.2 kb that also encompasses the upstream vOX2 (K14) gene. This mRNA species was induced strongly by phorbol ester (TPA) and sodium butyrate treatment in the BCBL-1 cell line, but only weakly in the HBL6 cell line, and was classified as a relatively late and low-abundance delayed early class lytic cycle gene product. A complex bipartite upstream lytic cycle promoter for this mRNA was nestled within the intron of the 5′-overlapping but oppositely oriented latent-state transcription unit for LANA1/vCYC-D/vFLIP and responded strongly to both TPA induction and cotransfection with the KSHV RNA transactivator protein (RTA or ORF50) in transient reporter gene assays. A vGCR protein product of 45 kDa that readily dimerized was detected by Western blotting and in vitro translation and was localized in a cytoplasmic and membrane pattern in DNA-transfected Vero and 293T cells or adenovirus vGCR-transduced dermal microvascular endothelial cells (DMVEC) as detected by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and immunohistochemistry with a specific rabbit anti-vGCR antibody. Similarly, a subfraction of KSHV-positive cultured PEL cells and of KSHV (JSC-1) persistently infected DMVEC cells displayed cytoplasmic vGCR protein expression, but only after TPA or spontaneous lytic cycle induction, respectively. The vGCR protein was also detectable by immunohistochemical staining in a small fraction (0.5 to 3%) of the cells in PEL and MCD tumor and nodular Kaposi's sarcoma lesion specimens that were apparently undergoing lytic cycle expression. These properties are difficult to reconcile with the vGCR protein's playing a direct role in spindle cell proliferation, transformation, or latency, but could be compatible with proposed contributions to angiogenesis via downstream paracrine effects. The ability of vGCR to transactivate expression of both several KSHV promoter-driven luciferase (LUC) reporter genes and an NFκB motif containing the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene may also suggest an unexpected regulatory role in viral gene expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science