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Oncogene. 2003 Feb 20;22(7):964-73.

Disruption of the B-cell specific transcriptional program in HHV-8 associated primary effusion lymphoma cell lines.

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Terry Fox Molecular Oncology Group, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a lymphoproliferative disease of B-cell origin that is associated with HHV-8 infection. PEL cells harbor a non-B, non-T phenotype and lack significant surface immunoglobulin (Ig) expression, a characteristic that has not been fully explained. In the present study, we demonstrate that PEL cells constitutively express interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-4, a transcription factor that regulates the activity of the immunoglobulin light-chain enhancer elements lambdaB and kappaE3' through binding to a composite Ets-IRF site. IRF-4 activity requires its physical interaction with PU.1, an Ets family member involved in the activation of genes essential for B-cell development. However, in PEL-derived B-cell lines, PU.1 expression was completely abrogated; expression of the B cell specific transcription factor Oct-2, which is known to regulate PU.1 expression, was also abolished. Moreover, the B-cell-specific coactivator of octamer factors, BOB-1/OcaB, was expressed at very decreased levels in PEL cells. Ectopic expression of Oct-2 was able to fully restore PU.1 promoter activity in the PEL cell line BCBL-1, while PU.1 expression also reconstituted the activity of the lambdaB Ets-IRF site. In addition, protein levels of BSAP/Pax-5 and IRF-8/ICSBP were undetectable in PEL cells. The pattern of transcription factor ablation observed in PEL was found to be comparable to that observed in classical Hodgkin's disease-derived cell lines, which also lack B-cell-specific surface markers. These observations indicate that disruption of the B-cell-specific transcriptional program is likely to contribute to the incomplete B-cell phenotype characteristic of PEL cells.

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