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Virology. 1993 Aug;195(2):608-15.

An origin of DNA replication (oriP) in highly methylated episomal Epstein-Barr virus DNA localizes to a 4.5-kb unmethylated region.

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Department of Virology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reveals two types of interactions with human B lymphocytes. In immortalized lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL), nine virus-coded proteins are expressed: six nuclear (EBNA1-6) and three membrane proteins (LMP1, TP 1,2). In Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) tumors and representative cell lines (type I) only EBNA-1 is expressed. The viral genomes are carried by the cells in an extrachromosal, episomal form. We have earlier described an overall difference in EBV DNA methylation between LCLs of normal B-cell origin and type I BL lines. EBV genomes are hypomethylated in the former, methylated in the latter. The origin of replication (oriP) for the episomal DNA is exempted from this overall methylation. This unmethylated region was analyzed in the BL derived type I cell line Rael. It starts just upstream of the coding exons for the small untranslated RNAs EBER I/II. It extends throughout oriP and includes several control elements between oriP and the first promoter for EBNA transcription (BCR2). The viral DNA was methylated around and downstream of that promoter, which is not used for EBNA-1 expression in Rael.

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