Epstein-Barr virus-encoded EBNA1 enhances RNA polymerase III-dependent EBER expression through induction of EBER-associated cellular transcription factors.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • TJ Owen
  • Chunfang Hu
  • X Chen
  • Y Yao
  • VH Wood
  • LE Mitchell
  • RJ White


BACKGROUND: Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-encoded RNAs (EBERs) are non-polyadenylated RNA molecules transcribed from the EBV genome by RNA polymerase III (pol III). EBERs are the most abundant viral latent gene products, although the precise mechanisms by which EBV is able to achieve such high levels of EBER expression are not fully understood. Previously EBV has been demonstrated to induce transcription factors associated with EBER expression, including pol III transcription factors and ATF-2. We have recently demonstrated that EBV-encoded nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA1) induces cellular transcription factors, and given these findings, we investigated the role of EBNA1 in induction of EBER-associated transcription factors. RESULTS: Our data confirm that in epithelial cells EBNA1 can enhance cellular pol III transcription. Transient expression of EBNA1 in Ad/AH cells stably expressing the EBERs led to induction of both EBER1 and EBER2 and conversely, expression of a dominant negative EBNA1 led to reduced EBER expression in EBV-infected Ad/AH cells. EBNA1 can induce transcription factors used by EBER genes, including TFIIIC, ATF-2 and c-Myc. A variant chromatin precipitation procedure showed that EBNA1 is associated with the promoters of these genes but not with the promoters of pol III-transcribed genes, including the EBERs themselves. Using shRNA knock-down, we confirm the significance of both ATF-2 and c-Myc in EBER expression. Further, functional induction of a c-Myc fusion protein led to increased EBER expression, providing c-Myc binding sites upstream of EBER1 were intact. In vivo studies confirm elevated levels of the 102 kD subunit of TFIIIC in the tumour cells of EBV-positive nasopharyngeal carcinoma biopsies. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings reveal that EBNA1 is able to enhance EBER expression through induction of cellular transcription factors and add to the repertoire of EBNA1's transcription-regulatory properties.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241
Number of pages1
JournalMolecular Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010