HHV-8 genomes are present in KS spindle and endothelial cells, which are believed to represent the neoplastic component of this tumor. In KS tissue and in BCBL cells HHV-8 genomes are present as circular episomes and therefore probably persist in a latent form in these tissues. In situ hybridization studies using probes for latent HHV-8 genes have confirmed this conclusion. The HHV-8 genome contains several genes which could conceivably interfere with cell cycle control, cellular transcription or intracellular signaling: these include a bcl-2 homologue (orf 16), a cyclin D2-like protein (orf 72), an interleukin 6 (IL-6)-like protein (orf K2), chemokine homologs (orfs K4, K.6), an interferon regulatory protein (orf K9), and a G protein-coupled receptor homolog (orf 74). The cyclin homolog is capable of interacting with cdk 6 to phosphorylate the retinoblastoma protein RB, and is expressed in KS tissue and in BCBL cells, but whether it, or any of the other viral proteins, plays a role in cellular transformation is not yet known and there is as yet no in vivo or in vitro evidence that HHV-8 is indeed a transforming rhadinovirus.

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