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Open Access Research article

Integrated microarray and multiplex cytokine analyses of Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus viral FLICE Inhibitory Protein K13 affected genes and cytokines in human blood vascular endothelial cells

Vasu Punj, Hittu Matta, Sandra Schamus and Preet M Chaudhary*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, Hillman Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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BMC Medical Genomics 2009, 2:50  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-2-50

Published: 6 August 2009



Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of KS, a neoplasm characterized by proliferating spindle cells, extensive neoangiogenesis and a prominent inflammatory infiltrate. Infection of blood vascular endothelial cells with KSHV in vitro results in their spindle cell transformation, which is accompanied by increased expression of inflammatory chemokines and cytokines, and acquisition of lymphatic endothelial markers. Mimicking the effect of viral infection, ectopic expression of KSHV-encoded latent protein vFLIP K13 is sufficient to induce spindle transformation of vascular endothelial cells. However, the effect of K13 expression on global gene expression and induction of lymphatic endothelial markers in vascular endothelial cells has not been studied.


We used gene array analysis to determine change in global gene expression induced by K13 in human vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs). Results of microarray analysis were validated by quantitative RT-PCR, immunoblotting and a multiplex cytokine array.


K13 affected the expression of several genes whose expression is known to be modulated by KSHV infection, including genes involved in immune and inflammatory responses, anti-apoptosis, stress response, and angiogenesis. The NF-κB pathway was the major signaling pathway affected by K13 expression, and genetic and pharmacological inhibitors of this pathway effectively blocked K13-induced transcriptional activation of the promoter of CXCL10, one of the chemokines whose expression was highly upregulated by K13. However, K13, failed to induce expression of lymphatic markers in blood vascular endothelial cells.


While K13 may account for change in the expression of a majority of genes observed following KSHV infection, it is not sufficient for inducing lymphatic reprogramming of blood vascular endothelial cells.