Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen 3A Promotes Cellular Proliferation by Repression of the Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21WAF1/CIP1

Melissa L. Tursiella, Emily R. Bowman, Keith C. Wanzeck, Robert E. Throm, Jason Liao, Junjia Zhu, Clare E. Sample

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Abstract

Latent infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is highly associated with the endemic form of Burkitt lymphoma (eBL), which typically limits expression of EBV proteins to EBNA-1 (Latency I). Interestingly, a subset of eBLs maintain a variant program of EBV latency - Wp-restricted latency (Wp-R) - that includes expression of the EBNA-3 proteins (3A, 3B and 3C), in addition to EBNA-1. In xenograft assays, Wp-R BL cell lines were notably more tumorigenic than their counterparts that maintain Latency I, suggesting that the additional latency-associated proteins expressed in Wp-R influence cell proliferation and/or survival. Here, we evaluated the contribution of EBNA-3A. Consistent with the enhanced tumorigenic potential of Wp-R BLs, knockdown of EBNA-3A expression resulted in abrupt cell-cycle arrest in G0/G1 that was concomitant with conversion of retinoblastoma protein (Rb) to its hypophosphorylated state, followed by a loss of Rb protein. Comparable results were seen in EBV-immortalized B lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs), consistent with the previous observation that EBNA-3A is essential for sustained growth of these cells. In agreement with the known ability of EBNA-3A and EBNA-3C to cooperatively repress p14ARF and p16INK4a expression, knockdown of EBNA-3A in LCLs resulted in rapid elevation of p14ARF and p16INK4a. By contrast, p16INK4a was not detectably expressed in Wp-R BL and the low-level expression of p14ARF was unchanged by EBNA-3A knockdown. Amongst other G1/S regulatory proteins, only p21WAF1/CIP1, a potent inducer of G1 arrest, was upregulated following knockdown of EBNA-3A in Wp-R BL Sal cells and LCLs, coincident with hypophosphorylation and destabilization of Rb and growth arrest. Furthermore, knockdown of p21WAF1/CIP1 expression in Wp-R BL correlated with an increase in cellular proliferation. This novel function of EBNA-3A is distinct from the functions previously described that are shared with EBNA-3C, and likely contributes to the proliferation of Wp-R BL cells and LCLs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS pathogens
Volume10
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology

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