Journal of virology 2017 10 1391(21) pii 10.1128/JVI.01370-17
The K15P membrane protein of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) interacts with multiple cellular signaling pathways and is thought to play key roles in KSHV-associated endothelial cell angiogenesis, regulation of B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling, and the survival, activation, and proliferation of BCR-negative primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells. Although full-length K15P is ∼45 kDa, numerous lower-molecular-weight forms of the protein exist as a result of differential splicing and poorly characterized posttranslational processing. K15P has been reported to localize to numerous subcellular organelles in heterologous expression studies, but there are limited data concerning the sorting of K15P in KSHV-infected cells. The relationships between the various molecular weight forms of K15P, their subcellular distribution, and how these may differ in latent and lytic KSHV infections are poorly understood. Here we report that a cDNA encoding a full-length, ∼45-kDa K15P reporter protein is expressed as an ∼23- to 24-kDa species that colocalizes with the trans-Golgi network (TGN) marker TGN46 in KSHV-infected PEL cells. Following lytic reactivation by sodium butyrate, the levels of the ∼23- to 24-kDa protein diminish, and the full-length, ∼45-kDa K15P protein accumulates. This is accompanied by apparent fragmentation of the TGN and redistribution of K15P to a dispersed peripheral location. Similar results were seen when lytic reactivation was stimulated by the KSHV protein replication and transcription activator (RTA) and during spontaneous reactivation. We speculate that expression of different molecular weight forms of K15P in distinct cellular locations reflects the alternative demands placed upon the protein in the latent and lytic phases.IMPORTANCE The K15P protein of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is thought to play key roles in disease, including KSHV-associated angiogenesis and the survival and growth of primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells. The protein exists in multiple molecular weight forms, and its intracellular trafficking is poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the molecular weight form of a reporter K15P molecule and its intracellular distribution change when KSHV switches from its latent (quiescent) phase to the lytic, infectious state. We speculate that expression of different molecular weight forms of K15P in distinct cellular locations reflects the alternative demands placed upon the protein in the viral latent and lytic stages.