Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is considered a ubiquitous herpesvirus with the ability to cause latent infection in humans worldwide. EBV-association is evidently linked to different types of human malignancies, mainly of epithelial and lymphoid origin. Of interest is the EBV nuclear antigen 3C (EBNA3C) which is critical for EBV-mediated immortalization. Recently, EBNA3C was shown to bind the E2F1 transcription regulator. The E2F transcription factors have crucial roles in various cellular functions, including cell cycle, DNA replication, DNA repair, cell mitosis, and cell fate. Specifically, E2F6, one of the unique E2F family members, is known to be a pRb-independent transcription repressor of E2F-target genes. In our current study, we explore the role of EBNA3C in regulating E2F6 activities. We observed that EBNA3C plays an important role in inducing E2F6 expression in LCLs. Our study also shows that EBNA3C physically interacts with E2F6 at its amino and carboxy terminal domains and they form a protein complex in human cells. In addition, EBNA3C stabilizes the E2F6 protein and is co-localized in the nucleus. We also demonstrated that both EBNA3C and E2F6 contribute to reduction in E2F1 transcriptional activity. Moreover, E2F1 forms a protein complex with EBNA3C and E2F6, and EBNA3C competes with E2F1 for E2F6 binding. E2F6 is also recruited by EBNA3C to the E2F1 promoter, which is critical for EBNA3C-mediated cell proliferation. These results demonstrate a critical role for E2F family members in EBV-induced malignancies, and provide new insights for targeting E2F transcription factors in EBV-associated cancers as potential therapeutic intervention strategies.
Pei, Y., Banerjee, S., Sun, Z., Jha, H. C., Saha, A., & Robertson, E. S. (2016). EBV Nuclear Antigen 3C Mediates Regulation of E2F6 to Inhibit E2F1 Transcription and Promote Cell Proliferation. PLoS Pathogens, 12(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005844