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J Virol. 2011 Mar;85(6):2859-68. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01628-10. Epub 2011 Jan 5.

Roscovitine inhibits EBNA1 serine 393 phosphorylation, nuclear localization, transcription, and episome maintenance.

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Samsung Biomedical Research Institutes, Samsung Medical Center, 50 Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea 135-710.


Latent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection causes human lymphomas and carcinomas. EBV usually persists as an episome in malignant cells. EBV episome persistence, replication, and gene expression are dependent on EBNA1 binding to multiple cognate sites in oriP. To search for inhibitors of EBNA1- and oriP-dependent episome maintenance or transcription, a library of 40,550 small molecules was screened for compounds that inhibit EBNA1- and oriP-dependent transcription and do not inhibit EBNA1- and oriP-independent transcription. This screening identified roscovitine, a selective inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1), CDK2, CDK5, and CDK7. Based on motif predictions of EBNA1 serine 393 as a CDK phosphorylation site and (486)RALL(489) and (580)KDLVM(584) as potential cyclin binding domains, we hypothesized that cyclin binding to EBNA1 may enable CDK1, -2, -5, or -7 to phosphorylate serine 393. We found that Escherichia coli-expressed EBNA1 amino acids 387 to 641 were phosphorylated in vitro by CDK1-, -2-, -5-, and -7/cyclin complexes and serine 393 phosphorylation was roscovitine inhibited. Further, S393A mutation abrogated phosphorylation. S393A mutant EBNA1 was deficient in supporting EBNA1- and oriP-dependent transcription and episome persistence, and roscovitine had little further effect on the diminished S393A mutant EBNA1-mediated transcription or episome persistence. Immunoprecipitated FLAG-EBNA1 was phosphorylated in vitro, and roscovitine inhibited this phosphorylation. Moreover, roscovitine decreased nuclear EBNA1 and often increased cytoplasmic EBNA1, whereas S393A mutant EBNA1 was localized equally in the nucleus and cytoplasm and was unaffected by roscovitine treatment. These data indicate that roscovitine effects are serine 393 specific and that serine 393 is important in EBNA1- and oriPCp-dependent transcription and episome persistence.

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