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J Virol. 2004 Nov;78(21):11648-55.

Accumulation of cytoplasmic beta-catenin and nuclear glycogen synthase kinase 3beta in Epstein-Barr virus-infected cells.

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  • 1Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Mason Farm Rd., Room 102, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes infectious mononucleosis and is associated with cancers in immunocompromised populations. EBV establishes a latent infection and immortalizes and transforms B lymphocytes. Several latent proteins have profound effects on cellular growth, including activation of NF-kappaB, phosphatidylinositol 3'-OH kinase (PI3K) signaling, and notch signaling. Activation of PI3K can affect the activity of beta-catenin, the target of the wnt signaling pathway. Deregulation of beta-catenin is associated with a number of malignancies. To determine if beta-catenin is regulated by EBV infection, EBV-infected cells were examined for beta-catenin levels and localization. beta-Catenin was increased in EBV-positive tumor cell lines compared to EBV-negative lines, in EBV-infected Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines, and in EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL). In contrast to wnt signaling, EBV consistently induced the accumulation of beta-catenin in the cytoplasm but not the nucleus. The beta-catenin regulating kinase, glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta), was shown to be phosphorylated and inactivated in EBV-infected lymphocytes. Inactivated GSK3beta was localized to the nucleus of EBV-infected LCL. Neither the cytoplasmic accumulation of beta-catenin nor the nuclear inactivation of GSK3beta was affected by the inhibition of PI3K signaling. These data indicate that latent infection with EBV has unique effects on beta-catenin signaling that are distinct from activation of wnt and independent of its effects on PI3K.

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