Research Papers:

Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) microRNA K12-1 functions as an oncogene by activating NF-κB/IL-6/STAT3 signaling

Mingqing Chen, Fan Sun, Lei Han and Zhaoxia Qu _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:33363-33373. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9221

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Mingqing Chen1,2,3,*, Fan Sun1,2,*, Lei Han1,2,*, Zhaoxia Qu1,2

1University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

3Hubei Key Laboratory of Genetic Regulation and Integrative Biology, School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhaoxia Qu, email: quz@upmc.edu

Keywords: KSHV/HHV8, miR-K12-1, NF-κB, IL-6, STAT3

Received: March 18, 2016    Accepted: April 10, 2016    Published: May 7, 2016


The human oncogenic virus Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) is the most common cause of malignancies among AIDS patients. KSHV possesses over hundred genes, including 25 microRNAs (miRNAs). The roles of these miRNAs and many other viral genes in KSHV biology and pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Accordingly, the molecular mechanisms by which KSHV induces tumorigenesis are still poorly defined. Here, we identify KSHV miRNA K12-1 (miR-K12-1) as a novel viral oncogene by activating two important transcription factors, nuclear factor-κb (NF-κB) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). Interestingly, miR-K12-1 activates STAT3 indirectly through inducing NF-κB activation and NF-κB-dependent expression of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) by repressing the expression of the NF-κB inhibitor IκBα. Accordingly, expression of ectopic IκBα or knockdown of NF-κB RelA, IL-6 or STAT3 prevents expression of cell growth genes and suppresses the oncogenicities of both miR-K12-1 and KSHV. These data identify miR-K12-1/NF-κB/IL-6/STAT3 as a novel oncogenic signaling underlying KSHV tumorigenesis. These data also provide the first evidence showing that IL-6/STAT3 signaling acts as an essential mediator of NF-κB oncogenic actions. These findings significantly improve our understanding of KSHV pathogenesis and oncogenic interaction between NF-κB and STAT3.

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