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Oncogene. 2006 May 4;25(19):2727-35.

Human polyomavirus BKV transcriptionally activates DNA methyltransferase 1 through the pRb/E2F pathway.

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  • 1Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Department of Urology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0944, USA.


Many DNA tumor virus oncogenes are capable of activating and highjacking the host cell's DNA replication machinery for its own reproduction purposes through targeting and inactivation of the retinoblastoma pocket protein family. Pocket proteins function to regulate cell cycle progression and DNA synthesis through inhibitory interactions with the E2F transcription factors. The interaction of viral oncogenes with the pocket proteins is crucial for their transforming activity. We recently demonstrated that the DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) gene is an E2F target gene that is transcriptionally activated in cells lacking the retinoblastoma gene (Rb-/-). Overexpression of DNMT1 is implicated in tumor suppressor gene hypermethylation which is associated with tumorigenesis. Given that viral oncogenes potently stimulate E2F activity, we hypothesized that viral infection might activate DNMT1 and thereby promote transformation. Herein, we demonstrate that DNMT1 is strongly activated by the human polyomavirus BKV large T antigen (TAg) and adenovirus E1a. Viral oncogene mutants incapable of binding the pocket proteins are ineffective at activating DNMT1 compared to their wild-type counterparts. Additionally, mutation of the E2F sites within the DNMT1 promoters dramatically abrogates transcriptional activation. These data suggest that viral induction of DNMT1 through modulation of the pRB/E2F pathway may be involved in viral transformation.

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