J Virol 2010 Dec 15;84(23):12139-51. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the causative agent of KS, the second most common AIDS-associated malignancy. KSHV expresses at least 18 different mature microRNAs (miRNAs) during latency. To identify cellular targets of KSHV miRNAs, we have analyzed a previously reported series of microarrays examining changes in cellular gene expression in the presence of KSHV miRNAs. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) receptor (TWEAKR) was among the most consistently and robustly downregulated genes in the presence of KSHV miR-K12-10a (miR-K10a). Results from luciferase assays with reporter plasmids containing the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of TWEAKR suggest a targeting of TWEAKR by miR-K10a. The mutation of two predicted miR-K10a recognition sites within the 3' UTR of TWEAKR completely disrupts inhibition by miR-K10a. The expression of TWEAKR was downregulated in cells transfected with miR-K10a as well as during de novo KSHV infection. In a KS tumor-derived endothelial cell line, the downregulation of TWEAKR by miR-K10a resulted in reduced levels of TWEAK-induced caspase activation. In addition, cells transfected with miR-K10a showed less induction of apoptosis by annexin V staining and terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) assays. Finally, the downregulation of TWEAKR by miR-K10a in primary human endothelial cells resulted in a decrease in levels of expression of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) in response to TWEAK. These results identify and validate an important cellular target of KSHV miRNAs. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a viral miRNA protects cells from apoptosis and suppresses a proinflammatory response, which may have significant implications in the complex context of KS lesions.