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PLoS Pathog. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003186. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003186. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Epstein - Barr virus transforming protein LMP-1 alters B cells gene expression by promoting accumulation of the oncoprotein ΔNp73α.

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International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, Lyon, France.


Many studies have proved that oncogenic viruses develop redundant mechanisms to alter the functions of the tumor suppressor p53. Here we show that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), via the oncoprotein LMP-1, induces the expression of ΔNp73α, a strong antagonist of p53. This phenomenon is mediated by the LMP-1 dependent activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase 1 (JNK-1) which in turn favours the recruitment of p73 to ΔNp73α promoter. A specific chemical inhibitor of JNK-1 or silencing JNK-1 expression strongly down-regulated ΔNp73α mRNA levels in LMP-1-containing cells. Accordingly, LMP-1 mutants deficient to activate JNK-1 did not induce ΔNp73α accumulation. The recruitment of p73 to the ΔNp73α promoter correlated with the displacement of the histone-lysine N-methyltransferase EZH2 which is part of the transcriptional repressive polycomb 2 complex. Inhibition of ΔNp73α expression in lymphoblastoid cells (LCLs) led to the stimulation of apoptosis and up-regulation of a large number of cellular genes as determined by whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing (RNA-seq). In particular, the expression of genes encoding products known to play anti-proliferative/pro-apoptotic functions, as well as genes known to be deregulated in different B cells malignancy, was altered by ΔNp73α down-regulation. Together, these findings reveal a novel EBV mechanism that appears to play an important role in the transformation of primary B cells.

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