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J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(23):12857-67.

A cyclin-binding motif within the amino-terminal homology domain of EBNA3C binds cyclin A and modulates cyclin A-dependent kinase activity in Epstein-Barr virus-infected cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and the Abramson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, 201E Johnson Pavilion, 3610 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen 3C (EBNA3C) is a virus-encoded latent antigen essential for primary B-cell transformation. In this report we demonstrate that although the carboxy terminus of EBNA3C predominantly regulates cyclin A-dependent kinase activity, the region of greatest affinity for cyclin A lies within the EBNA3 amino-terminal homology domain of EBNA3C. Detailed mapping studies employing both in vitro binding assays and coimmunoprecipitation experiments implicated a small region of EBNA3C, amino acids 130 to 159 within the EBNA3 homology domain, as having the greatest affinity for cyclin A. The EBNA3 homology domain has the highest degree of amino acid similarity (approximately 30%) between the EBNA3 proteins, and, indeed, EBNA3B, but not EBNA3A, showed binding activity with cyclin A. We also show that EBNA3C binds to the alpha1 helix of the highly conserved mammalian cyclin box, with cyclin A amino acids 206 to 226 required for strong binding to EBNA3C amino acids 130 to 159. Interestingly, EBNA3C also bound human cyclins D1 and E in vitro, although the affinity was approximately 30% of that seen for cyclin A. Previously it was demonstrated that full-length EBNA3C rescues p27-mediated suppression of cyclin A-dependent kinase activity (J. S. Knight and E. S. Robertson, J. Virol. 78:1981-1991, 2004). It was also demonstrated that the carboxy terminus of EBNA3C recapitulates this phenotype. Surprisingly, the amino terminus of EBNA3C with the highest affinity for cyclin A was unable to rescue p27 suppression of kinase activity and actually downregulates cyclin A activity when introduced into EBV-infected cells. The data presented here suggests that the amino terminus of EBNA3C may play an important role in recruiting cyclin A complexes, while the carboxy terminus of EBNA3C is necessary for the functional modulation of cyclin A complex kinase activity.

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