IKK epsilon kinase is crucial for viral G protein-coupled receptor tumorigenesis

Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 06/2013; 110(30). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219829110
Source: PubMed


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are seven-transmembrane proteins that transmit diverse extracellular signals across a membrane. Herpesvirus genomes encode multiple GPCRs implicated in viral pathogenesis. Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus GPCR (kGPCR) activates proliferative pathways and, when expressed in endothelium in mice, sufficiently induces angiogenic tumor resembling human Kaposi's sarcoma. IKKε, an IκB kinase (IKK)-related kinase, is implicated in inflammation-driven tumorigenesis. We report here that IKKε is critically required for kGPCR tumorigenesis and links kGPCR to NF-κB activation. Using kGPCR-induced tumor models, we found that IKKε expression was drastically up-regulated in Kaposi sarcoma-like lesions and that loss of IKKε abolished tumor formation. Moreover, kGPCR interacted with and activated IKKε. Activated IKKε promoted NF-κB subunit RelA (also known as p65) phosphorylation, which correlated with NF-κB activation and inflammatory cytokine expression. The robust expression of IKKε and phosphorylated RelA was observed in human Kaposi sarcoma. Finally, a kinase-defective mutant of IKKε effectively abrogated NF-κB activation and tumorigenesis induced by kGPCR. Collectively, our findings uncover a critical IKKε in promoting NF-κB activation and tumorigenesis induced by a viral GPCR.

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