Kaposi’s sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus that is the etiological agent of the endothelial cell cancer Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and 2 B cell lymphoproliferative disorders, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD). KSHV ORF36, also known as viral protein kinase (vPK), is a viral serine/threonine kinase. We previously reported that KSHV vPK enhances cell proliferation and mimics cellular S6 kinase to phosphorylate ribosomal protein S6, a protein involved in protein synthesis. We created a mouse model to analyze the function of vPK in vivo. We believe this is the first mouse tumor model of a viral kinase encoded by a pathogenic human virus. We observed increased B cell activation in the vPK transgenic mice compared with normal mice. We also found that, over time, vPK transgenic mice developed a B cell hyperproliferative disorder and/or a high-grade B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma at a greatly increased incidence compared with littermate controls. This mouse model shows that a viral protein kinase is capable of promoting B cell activation and proliferation as well as augmenting lymphomagenesis in vivo and may therefore contribute to the development of viral cancers.


Penny M. Anders, Nathan D. Montgomery, Stephanie A. Montgomery, Aadra P. Bhatt, Dirk P. Dittmer, Blossom Damania


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