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Virol J. 2010 Nov 26;7:348. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-7-348.

The Meq oncoprotein of Marek's disease virus interacts with p53 and inhibits its transcriptional and apoptotic activities.

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  • 1Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, Shanghai 200241, PR China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Marek's disease virus (MDV) is an oncogenic herpesvirus, which causes malignant lymphoma in chickens. The Meq protein of MDV, which is expressed abundantly in MDV-infected cells and in Marek's disease (MD) tumor cells, functions as a transcriptional activator and has been proposed to play an important role in oncogenic transformation. Preliminary studies demonstrated that Meq is able to bind p53 in vitro, as demonstrated using a protein-binding assay. This observation prompted us to examine whether the interaction between Meq and p53 occurs in cells, and to investigate the biological significance of this interaction.

RESULTS:

We confirmed first that Meq interacted directly with p53 using a yeast two-hybrid assay and an immunoprecipitation assay, and we investigated the biological significance of this interaction subsequently. Exogenous expression of Meq resulted in the inhibition of p53-mediated transcriptional activity and apoptosis, as analyzed using a p53 luciferase reporter assay and a TUNEL assay. The inhibitory effect of Meq on transcriptional activity mediated by p53 was dependent on the physical interaction between these two proteins, because a Meq deletion mutant that lacked the p53-binding region lost the ability to inhibit p53-mediated transcriptional activity and apoptosis. The Meq variants L-Meq and S-Meq, but not VS-Meq and ∆Meq, which were expressed in MD tumor cells and MDV-infected cells, exerted an inhibitory effect on p53 transcriptional activity. In addition, ∆Meq was found to act as a negative regulator of Meq.

CONCLUSIONS:

The Meq oncoprotein interacts directly with p53 and inhibits p53-mediated transcriptional activity and apoptosis. These findings provide valuable insight into the molecular basis for the function of Meq in MDV oncogenesis.

PMID:
21110861
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2999606
Free PMC Article
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