In B cells infected by the cancer-associated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), RUNX3 and RUNX1 transcription is manipulated to control cell growth. The EBV-encoded EBNA2 transcription factor (TF) activates RUNX3 transcription leading to RUNX3-mediated repression of the RUNX1 promoter and the relief of RUNX1-directed growth repression. We show that EBNA2 activates RUNX3 through a specific element within a -97 kb super-enhancer in a manner dependent on the expression of the Notch DNA-binding partner RBP-J. We also reveal that the EBV TFs EBNA3B and EBNA3C contribute to RUNX3 activation in EBV-infected cells by targeting the same element. Uncovering a counter-regulatory feed-forward step, we demonstrate EBNA2 activation of a RUNX1 super-enhancer (-139 to -250 kb) that results in low-level RUNX1 expression in cells refractory to RUNX1-mediated growth inhibition. EBNA2 activation of the RUNX1 super-enhancer is also dependent on RBP-J. Consistent with the context-dependent roles of EBNA3B and EBNA3C as activators or repressors, we find that these proteins negatively regulate the RUNX1 super-enhancer, curbing EBNA2 activation. Taken together our results reveal cell-type-specific exploitation of RUNX gene super-enhancers by multiple EBV TFs via the Notch pathway to fine tune RUNX3 and RUNX1 expression and manipulate B-cell growth.
Gunnell, A., Webb, H. M., Wood, C. D., McClellan, M. J., Wichaidit, B., Kempkes, B., … West, M. J. (2016). RUNX super-enhancer control through the Notch pathway by Epstein-Barr virus transcription factors regulates B cell growth. Nucleic Acids Research, 44(10), 4636–4650. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkw085