Journal of Biomedical Science

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 475–489 | Cite as

Human herpesvirus-8-encoded signalling ligands and receptors

  • John Nicholas


Analysis of the genome of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) led to the discovery of several novel genes, unique among the characterized gammaherpesviruses. These include cytokines (interleukin-6 and chemokine homologues), two putative signal-transducing transmembrane proteins encoded by genes K1 and K15 at the genome termini, and an OX-2 (CD200) receptor homologue that had not previously been identified in a gammaherpesvirus. HHV-8 also specifies a diverged version of the gammaherpesvirus-conserved G protein-coupled chemokine receptor (vGCR) and a latently expressed protein unique to HHV-8 specified by open reading frame (ORF) K12. These cytokine and receptor homologues mediate signal transduction or modulate the activities of other endogenous cytokines and receptors to enhance viral productive replication, regulate latent-lytic switching, evade host attack, or mediate cell survival. The viral signalling ligands and receptors are also potential contributors to virus-associated diseases, Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman's disease, and so represent potentially important targets for therapeutic and antiviral drugs. Understanding these proteins' modes of action and functions in viral biology and disease is therefore of considerable importance, and the subject of this review.

Key Words

Human herpesvirus 8 Gammaherpesvirus Viral signalling ligand Kaposi's sarcoma Primary effusion lymphoma Multicentric Castleman's disease 


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Copyright information

© National Science Council 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Nicholas
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular Virology LaboratoriesSidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns HopkinsBaltimoreUSA

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