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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(2):999-1010.

EBNA3A association with RBP-Jkappa down-regulates c-myc and Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphoblast growth.

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Virology Program and Department of Medicine, Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen protein 3A (EBNA3A) is one of four EBNAs (EBNA-2, EBNALP, EBNA3A, and EBNA3C) through the cellular DNA sequence-specific transcription factor RBP-Jkappa/CBF-1/CSL and are essential for conversion of primary B lymphocytes to lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). In the present study, we investigated the effects of EBNA3A on EBNA2 activation of transcription in the IB4 LCL by conditionally overexpressing EBNA3A three- to fivefold. EBNA3A overexpression increased EBNA3A association with RBP-Jkappa, did not change EBNA3C association with RBP-Jkappa or EBNA or LMP1 expression, decreased EBNA2 association with RBP-Jkappa, decreased c-myc expression, and caused G(0)/G(1) growth arrest with prolonged viability. Expression of the fusion protein MycERTM in cells with conditional EBNA3A overexpression restored cell cycle progression and caused apoptosis. In contrast, MycER in the same cells without EBNA3A overexpression enhanced cell proliferation and did not increase apoptosis. These data indicate that EBNA3A overexpression inhibits protection from c-myc-induced apoptosis. In assays of EBNA2- and RBP-Jkappa-dependent transcription, EBNA3A amino acids 1 to 386 were sufficient for repression equivalent to that by wild-type EBNA3A, amino acids 1 to 124 were unimportant, amino acids 1 to 277 were insufficient, and a triple alanine substitution within the EBNA3A core RBP-Jkappa binding domain was a null mutation. In reverse genetic experiments with IB4 LCLs, the effects of conditional EBNA3A overexpression on c-myc expression and proliferation did not require amino acids 524 to 944 but did require amino acids 278 to 524 as well as wild-type sequence in the core RBP-Jkappa binding domain. The dependence of EBNA3A effects on the core RBP-Jkappa interaction domain and on the more C-terminal amino acids (amino acids 278 to 524) required for efficient RBP-Jkappa association strongly implicates RBP-Jkappa in c-myc promoter regulation.

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