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28 January 2003

The in vivo binding site for oncoprotein c-Myc in the promoter for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) encoding RNA (EBER) 1 suggests a specific role for EBV in lymphomagenesis.

Hans Helmut Niller, Daniel Salamon, Karin Ilg, Anita Koroknai, Ferenc Banati, Gerald Bäuml, Ovidiu Ludwig Rücker, Fritz Schwarzmann, Hans Wolf, Janos Minarovits

Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(1): HY1-9 :: ID: 4771


BACKGROUND: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was isolated in the 1960s from the African childhood tumor, Burkitt's Lymphoma (BL), characterized by the translocation of the c-myc gene into one of the immunoglobulin loci. Due to the extreme discrepancy between the widespread dissemination of EBV infection and the overall rarity of EBV-related tumors, it remains an open question whether EBV is really a human tumor virus, and if so, what specific contribution EBV may have to tumorigenesis. MATERIAL/METHODS: Protein binding at the EBER locus of EBV was analyzed by genomic footprinting electrophoretic mobility shift, reporter gene assay, and chromatin immunoprecipitation in a panel of six B-cell lines. RESULTS: Several novel in vivo protein binding sites were found in the EBER locus. Among those, a prominent binding site, 130 base pairs upstream of the EBER1 gene, contains two E-boxes providing a consensus sequence for binding of the transcription factor and oncoprotein c-Myc to the EBV genome. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the discovery of a binding site for c-Myc in the EBV genome, a new molecular model for the specific role of EBV as a causal factor in the origin of endemic Burkitt's Lymphoma is proposed. Translocated and deregulated c-myc directly activates and maintains the antiapoptotic functions of the EBER locus in a single EBV-infected B cell undergoing the germinal center (GC) reaction. With the balance shifted towards cell survival, the oncogenic potential of the pro-apoptotic c-Myc protein is unmasked in the translocated GC cell. This single translocated and surviving cell is the founder cell of an endemic BL. The new model reinstitutes EBV as a real human tumor virus.

Keywords: Genes, myc - genetics, Herpesvirus 4, Human - metabolism, Lymphoma - etiology, Lymphoma - virology, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc - chemistry, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc - metabolism

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750