Herpesvirus saimiri (H. saimiri) is a highly oncogenic lymphotropic herpesvirus which can immortalize T lymphocytes and cause tumors in rabbits and New World monkeys T cells infected with strain 484-77 of group C express four viral U-like small RNAs (HSUR1-4) and a 1.2-kb mRNA which encodes open reading frames ORF-1 and ORF-2. ORF-1 encodes a collagen-like oncoprotein. Deletion mutation analysis showed that ORF-1 and ORF-2 are essential for IL-2 independent growth of human T cells infected with H. saimiri. An earlier study also demonstrated that H saimiri-immortalized cells carry functional IL-2 receptors. The work presented in this report investigated whether IL-2 and IL-4 is produced by H. saimiriimmortalized T lymphocytes. Both IL-2 mRNA and IL-4 mRNA were detected in various monkey T cells as well as human peripheral blood lymphocytes infected with wild-type H. saimiri. Secretion of IL-2 was suggested by cyclosporin A inhibition. IL-4 secretion by monkey T cell cultures was demonstrated by a bioassay and inhibition of bioactivity by an antibody to IL4. The data also show that recombinant IL-4 stimulate H. saimiri-immortalized T cells; thus, IL-4 receptors are expressed. However, antibodies to human IL-4, IL-4 receptor, or soluble IL-4 receptor did not curtail growth of transformed cells. T cells infected with ORF-1 and ORF-2 deletion mutants expressed no detectable IL-2 mRNA ORF-1, ORF-2, HSUR1, and HSUR2, were all essential for expression of IL-4 mRNA. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that H. saimiriimmortalized monkey and human T lymphocytes proliferate through autocrine secretion of IL-2 and that ORF-1, ORF-2, and HSUR sequences of the virus are involved in expression of lymphokines.
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