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Microbiol Immunol. 2003;47(1):91-9.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen leader protein (EBNA-LP) forms complexes with a cellular anti-apoptosis protein Bcl-2 or its EBV counterpart BHRF1 through HS1-associated protein X-1.

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Department of Cell Regulation, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8510, Japan.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen leader protein (EBNA-LP) plays a critical role in EBV-induced transformation. An earlier report (Y. Kawaguchi et al., J. Virol. 74: 10104-10111, 2000) showed that EBNA-LP interacts with a cellular protein HS1-associated protein X-1 (HAX-1). The predicted amino acid sequence of HAX-1 exhibits similarity to that of another cellular protein Nip3 which has been shown to interact with cellular and viral anti-apoptotic proteins such as Bcl-2 and BHRF1, an EBV homolog of Bcl-2. Here we investigated whether HAX-1, like Nip3, interacts with Bcl-2 proteins and report the following. (i) A purified chimeric protein consisting of gluthathione S-transferase (GST) fused to BHRF1 (GST-BHRF1) or Bcl-2 (GST-Bcl-2) specifically pulled down HAX-1 transiently expressed in COS-7 cells. (ii) GST-BHRF1 or GST-Bcl-2 was not able to pull down EBNA-LP transiently expressed in COS-7 cells, whereas each of the GST fusion proteins formed complexes with EBNA-LP in the presence of RAX-1. These results indicated that EBNA-LP interacts with the viral and cellular Bcl-2 proteins through HAX-1, suggesting that EBNA-LP possesses a potential function in the regulation of apoptosis in EBV-infected cells.

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