Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) is a cancer-causing virus, primarily affecting AIDS patients. KSHV is found in 3-10% of the U.S. population and can cause a range of cancers in the highly immunosuppressed; these cancers include Kaposi's sarcoma, pleural effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD). The current techniques for treating these cancers are relatively ineffective, largely due to their inefficiency at targeting tumors formed by the infection. One protein produced by KSHV, the viral homolog of interleukin-6 (vIL-6), is thought to play a major role in tumor development post-infection. Here a novel animal model is implemented to study the ways vIL-6 affects tumor development through growth factors and other cytokines within infected highly immune-deficient Rag2-/-γc-/- mice. Mice were subcutaneously injected with one of three types of cells: B cells infected with a wild-type (WT) KSHV, B cells infected with mutant KSHV without the gene for viral interleukin 6, and a negative control of uninfected B cells. After allowing time for tumors to develop the mice were sacrificed and the tumors assessed. Analysis of the physical properties of the tumors, as well as markers expressed by the tumors, were used to help determine whether vIL-6 could be an appropriate target when treating these cancers. In this study vIL-6 was seen to influence certain B cell markers (CD30), as well as onset of tumors (with no significant increase in overall tumor mass, but with marginally statistically significant increase in tumor number). This indicates that although vIL-6 could play a small role as a target for cancer, further investigation into the relationship of CD30 in these types of cancers needs to be explored. It was also found that the KSHV viral-infection decreases the development of tumors compared with uninfected immortalized B cells (BJAB). Not only would results from this experiment help develop new treatments, and change the lives of those suffering with cancers induced by KSHV, but they would provide a foundation for future studies with these types of cancers.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



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Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, KSHV, viral interleukin-6, cancer, lymphoma



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Microbiology Commons