Activation of the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling pathway has been associated with numerous human malignancies, including primary effusion lymphomas (PELs). PEL, a cancerous proliferation of B cells, is caused by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Previously we identified constitutive phosphorylation of STAT6 on tyrosine 641 (p-STAT6(C)) in PEL cell lines BC3 and BCBL1; however, the molecular mechanism leading to this activation remains unclear. Here we demonstrate that STAT6 activation tightly correlates with interleukin-13 (IL-13) secretion, JAK1/2 tyrosine phosphorylation, and reduced expression of SHP1 due to KSHV infection. Moreover, p-STAT6(C) and reduction of SHP1 were also observed in KS patient tissue. Notably, blockade of IL-13 by antibody neutralization dramatically inhibits PEL cell proliferation and survival. Taken together, these results suggest that IL-13/STAT6 signaling is modulated by KSHV to promote host cell proliferation and viral pathogenesis.
Importance: STAT6 is a member of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) family, whose activation is linked to KSHV-associated cancers. The mechanism through which STAT6 is modulated by KSHV remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrated that constitutive activation of STAT6 in KSHV-associated PEL cells results from interleukin-13 (IL-13) secretion and reduced expression of SHP1. Importantly, we also found that depletion of IL-13 reduces PEL cell growth and survival. This discovery provides new insight that IL-13/STAT6 plays an essential role in KSHV pathogenesis.
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