Epstein-Barr virus induces cellular transcription factors to stimulate expression of EBER genes by RNA polymerase III

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • A Felton-Edkins
  • A Kondrashov
  • D Karali
  • JA Fairley
  • RJ White


The EBER genes of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are transcribed by RNA polymerase (pol) III to produce untranslated RNAs that are implicated in oncogenesis. These EBER transcripts are the most highly expressed viral gene products in EBV-transformed cells. We have identified changes to the cellular transcription machinery that may contribute to the high levels of EBER RNA. These include phosphorylation of ATF2, which interacts with EBER promoters. A second is induction of TFIIIC, a pol III-specific factor that activates EBER genes; all five subunits of TFIIIC are overexpressed in EBV-positive cells. In addition, EBV induces BDP1, a subunit of the pol III-specific factor TFIIIB. Although BDP1 is the only TFIIIB subunit induced by EBV, its induction is sufficient to stimulate EBER expression in vivo, implying a limiting function. The elevated levels of BDP1 and TFIIIC in EBV-positive cells stimulate production of tRNA, 7SL, and 5S rRNA. Abnormally high expression of these cellular pol III products may contribute to the ability of EBV to enhance growth potential.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33871-33880
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2006