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1.  Epstein-Barr Virus Induces Global Changes in Cellular mRNA Isoform Usage That Are Important for the Maintenance of Latency 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(22):12291-12301.
Oncogenic viruses promote cell proliferation through the dramatic reorganization of host transcriptomes. In addition to regulating mRNA abundance, changes in mRNA isoform usage can have a profound impact on the protein output of the transcriptome. Using Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transformation of primary B cells, we have studied the ability of an oncogenic virus to alter the mRNA isoform profile of its host. Using the algorithm called SplicerEX with two complementary Affymetrix microarray platforms, we uncovered 433 mRNA isoform changes regulated by EBV during B-cell transformation. These changes were largely orthogonal with the 2,163 mRNA abundance changes observed during transformation, such that less than one-third of mRNAs changing at the level of isoform also changed in overall abundance. While we observed no preference for a mechanistic class of mRNA isoform change, we detected a significant shortening of 3′ untranslated regions and exclusion of cassette exons in EBV-transformed cells relative to uninfected B cells. Gene ontology analysis of the mRNA isoform changes revealed significant enrichment in nucleic acid binding proteins. We validated several of these isoform changes and were intrigued by those in two mRNAs encoding the proteins XBP1 and TCF4, which have both been shown to bind and activate the promoter of the major EBV lytic trans-activator BZLF1. Our studies indicate that EBV latent infection promotes the usage of mRNA isoforms of XBP1 and TCF4 that restrict BZLF1 activation. Therefore, characterization of global changes in mRNA isoform usage during EBV infection identifies a new mechanism for the maintenance of latent infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02464-13
PMCID: PMC3807935  PMID: 24027308
2.  Mitogen-Induced B-Cell Proliferation Activates Chk2-Dependent G1/S Cell Cycle Arrest 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87299.
B-cell activation and proliferation can be induced by a variety of extracellular stimuli. The fate of an activated B cell following mitogen stimulation can be dictated by the strength or duration of the signal, the expression of downstream signaling components necessary to promote proliferation, and the cell intrinsic sensors and regulators of the proliferative program. Previously we have identified the DNA damage response (DDR) signaling pathway as a cell intrinsic sensor that is activated upon latent infection of primary human B cells by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Here we have assessed the role of the DDR as a limiting factor in the proliferative response to non-viral B-cell mitogens. We report that TLR9 activation through CpG-rich oligonucleotides induced B-cell hyper-proliferation and an ATM/Chk2 downstream signaling pathway. However, B-cell activation through the CD40 pathway coupled with interleukin-4 (IL-4) promoted proliferation less robustly and only a modest DDR. These two mitogens, but not EBV, modestly induced intrinsic apoptosis that was independent from the DDR. However, all three mitogens triggered a DDR-dependent G1/S phase cell cycle arrest preventing B-cell proliferation. The extent of G1/S arrest, as evidenced by release through Chk2 inhibition, correlated with B-cell proliferation rates. These findings have implications for the regulation of extra-follicular B-cell activation as it may pertain to the development of auto-immune diseases or lymphoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087299
PMCID: PMC3907503  PMID: 24498068
3.  Heavy LIFting: tumor promotion and radioresistance in NPC 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):4999-5001.
The epithelial-derived nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rare tumor in most of the world; however, it is common in southern China, northern Africa, and Alaska. NPC is often left undiagnosed and untreated until a late stage of disease. Furthermore, while radiation therapy is effective against this tumor, local recurrence due to radioresistance is an important clinical problem. In this issue, Liu et al. report on their identification of the IL-6 family cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) as a serum predictor of local NPC recurrence following radiation therapy. The authors developed this initial finding to discover a role for the LIF/LIFR/mTORC1 signaling axis in NPC tumor cell growth as well as radioresistance.
doi:10.1172/JCI73416
PMCID: PMC3859398  PMID: 24270417
4.  A component of the mir-17-92 polycistronic oncomir promotes oncogene-dependent apoptosis 
eLife  2013;2:e00822.
mir-17-92, a potent polycistronic oncomir, encodes six mature miRNAs with complex modes of interactions. In the Eμ-myc Burkitt’s lymphoma model, mir-17-92 exhibits potent oncogenic activity by repressing c-Myc-induced apoptosis, primarily through its miR-19 components. Surprisingly, mir-17-92 also encodes the miR-92 component that negatively regulates its oncogenic cooperation with c-Myc. This miR-92 effect is, at least in part, mediated by its direct repression of Fbw7, which promotes the proteosomal degradation of c-Myc. Thus, overexpressing miR-92 leads to aberrant c-Myc increase, imposing a strong coupling between excessive proliferation and p53-dependent apoptosis. Interestingly, miR-92 antagonizes the oncogenic miR-19 miRNAs; and such functional interaction coordinates proliferation and apoptosis during c-Myc-induced oncogenesis. This miR-19:miR-92 antagonism is disrupted in B-lymphoma cells that favor a greater increase of miR-19 over miR-92. Altogether, we suggest a new paradigm whereby the unique gene structure of a polycistronic oncomir confers an intricate balance between oncogene and tumor suppressor crosstalk.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00822.001
eLife digest
The role of genes, in very simple terms, is to be transcribed into messenger RNA molecules, which are then translated into strings of amino acids that fold into proteins. Each of these steps is extremely complex, and a wide range of other molecules can speed up, slow down, stop or otherwise disrupt the expression of genes as protein products. Genes can also code for nucleic acids that are not translated into proteins, such as microRNAs. These are small RNA molecules that can reduce the production of proteins by repressing the translation step and/or by partially degrading the messenger RNA molecules.
mir-17-92 is a gene that exemplifies much of this complexity. It codes for six different microRNAs in a single primary transcript, and has been implicated in a number of cancers, including lung cancer, Burkitt’s lymphoma and other forms of lymphomas and leukemia. One of six microRNAs has a longer evolutionary history than the remaining five: mir-92 is found in vertebrates, chordates and invertebrates, whereas the other five are only found in vertebrates. However, it is not known how or why the mir-17-92 gene evolved to code for multiple different microRNAs.
Olive et al. have studied how these mir-17-92 microRNAs functionally interact in mice with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that is associated with a gene called c-Myc being over-activated. Mutations in this gene promote the proliferation of cells, and in cooperation with other genetic lesions, this ultimately leads to cancer. mir-17-92 is implicated in this cancer because it represses the process of programmed cell death (which is induced by the protein c-Myc) that the body employs to stop tumors growing.
Olive et al. found that deleting one of the six microRNAs, miR-92, increased the tendency of the mir-17-92 gene to promote Burkitt’s lymphoma. By repressing an enzyme called Fbw7, miR-92 causes high levels of c-Myc to be produced. While this leads to the uncontrolled proliferation of cells that promotes cancer, it also increases programmed cell death, at least in part, by activating the p53 pathway, a well-known tumor suppression pathway. The experiments also revealed that the action of miR-92 and that of one of the other microRNAs, miR-19, were often opposed to each other. These findings have revealed an unexpected interaction among different components within a single microRNA gene, which acts to maintain an intricate balance between pathways that promote and suppress cancer.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00822.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.00822
PMCID: PMC3796314  PMID: 24137534
microRNAs; c-Myc; Eμ-myc lymphoma; apoptosis; p53; Mouse
5.  Analysis of Epstein-Barr Virus-Regulated Host Gene Expression Changes through Primary B-Cell Outgrowth Reveals Delayed Kinetics of Latent Membrane Protein 1-Mediated NF-κB Activation 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(20):11096-11106.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is an oncogenic human herpesvirus that dramatically reorganizes host gene expression to immortalize primary B cells. In this study, we analyzed EBV-regulated host gene expression changes following primary B-cell infection, both during initial proliferation and through transformation into lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). While most EBV-regulated mRNAs were changed during the transition from resting, uninfected B cells through initial B-cell proliferation, a substantial number of mRNAs changed uniquely from early proliferation through LCL outgrowth. We identified constitutively and dynamically EBV-regulated biological processes, protein classes, and targets of specific transcription factors. Early after infection, genes associated with proliferation, stress responses, and the p53 pathway were highly enriched. However, the transition from early to long-term outgrowth was characterized by genes involved in the inhibition of apoptosis, the actin cytoskeleton, and NF-κB activity. It was previously thought that the major viral protein responsible for NF-κB activation, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), is expressed within 2 days after infection. Our data indicate that while this is true, LCL-level LMP1 expression and NF-κB activity are not evident until 3 weeks after primary B-cell infection. Furthermore, heterologous NF-κB activation during the first week after infection increased the transformation efficiency, while early NF-κB inhibition had no effect on transformation. Rather, inhibition of NF-κB was not toxic to EBV-infected cells until LMP1 levels and NF-κB activity were high. These data collectively highlight the dynamic nature of EBV-regulated host gene expression and support the notion that early EBV-infected proliferating B cells have a fundamentally distinct growth and survival phenotype from that of LCLs.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01069-12
PMCID: PMC3457162  PMID: 22855490
6.  The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)-Induced Tumor Suppressor MicroRNA MiR-34a Is Growth Promoting in EBV-Infected B Cells 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(12):6889-6898.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection of primary human B cells drives their indefinite proliferation into lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). B cell immortalization depends on expression of viral latency genes, as well as the regulation of host genes. Given the important role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating fundamental cellular processes, in this study, we assayed changes in host miRNA expression during primary B cell infection by EBV. We observed and validated dynamic changes in several miRNAs from early proliferation through immortalization; oncogenic miRNAs were induced, and tumor suppressor miRNAs were largely repressed. However, one miRNA described as a p53-targeted tumor suppressor, miR-34a, was strongly induced by EBV infection and expressed in many EBV and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)-infected lymphoma cell lines. EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) was sufficient to induce miR-34a requiring downstream NF-κB activation but independent of functional p53. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-34a was not toxic in several B lymphoma cell lines, and inhibition of miR-34a impaired the growth of EBV-transformed cells. This study identifies a progrowth role for a tumor-suppressive miRNA in oncogenic-virus-mediated transformation, highlighting the importance of studying miRNA function in different cellular contexts.
doi:10.1128/JVI.07056-11
PMCID: PMC3393554  PMID: 22496226
7.  At a crossroads: human DNA tumor viruses and the host DNA damage response 
Future virology  2011;6(7):813-830.
Human DNA tumor viruses induce host cell proliferation in order to establish the necessary cellular milieu to replicate viral DNA. The consequence of such viral-programmed induction of proliferation coupled with the introduction of foreign replicating DNA structures makes these viruses particularly sensitive to the host DNA damage response machinery. In fact, sensors of DNA damage are often activated and modulated by DNA tumor viruses in both latent and lytic infection. This article focuses on the role of the DNA damage response during the life cycle of human DNA tumor viruses, with a particular emphasis on recent advances in our understanding of the role of the DNA damage response in EBV, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and human papillomavirus infection.
doi:10.2217/fvl.11.55
PMCID: PMC3171950  PMID: 21927617
DNA tumor virus; EBV; Epstein–Barr virus; genomic instability; HBV; hepatitis B virus; HPV; human papillomavirus; human polyomavirus; Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; KSHV; oncogenic; stress; tumor suppression
13.  The Viral and Cellular MicroRNA Targetome in Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(1):e1002484.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous human herpesvirus linked to a number of B cell cancers and lymphoproliferative disorders. During latent infection, EBV expresses 25 viral pre-microRNAs (miRNAs) and induces the expression of specific host miRNAs, such as miR-155 and miR-21, which potentially play a role in viral oncogenesis. To date, only a limited number of EBV miRNA targets have been identified; thus, the role of EBV miRNAs in viral pathogenesis and/or lymphomagenesis is not well defined. Here, we used photoactivatable ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP) combined with deep sequencing and computational analysis to comprehensively examine the viral and cellular miRNA targetome in EBV strain B95-8-infected lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). We identified 7,827 miRNA-interaction sites in 3,492 cellular 3′UTRs. 531 of these sites contained seed matches to viral miRNAs. 24 PAR-CLIP-identified miRNA:3′UTR interactions were confirmed by reporter assays. Our results reveal that EBV miRNAs predominantly target cellular transcripts during latent infection, thereby manipulating the host environment. Furthermore, targets of EBV miRNAs are involved in multiple cellular processes that are directly relevant to viral infection, including innate immunity, cell survival, and cell proliferation. Finally, we present evidence that myc-regulated host miRNAs from the miR-17/92 cluster can regulate latent viral gene expression. This comprehensive survey of the miRNA targetome in EBV-infected B cells represents a key step towards defining the functions of EBV-encoded miRNAs, and potentially, identifying novel therapeutic targets for EBV-associated malignancies.
Author Summary
Over 90% of adults worldwide are infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). While EBV infection is normally controlled by a healthy immune system, in immuno-compromised individuals, EBV can cause serious disease and/or cancer. During infection, EBV expresses viral microRNAs (miRNAs) and induces the expression of specific cellular miRNAs. In general, miRNAs inhibit target gene expression by binding to complementary regions on target messenger RNAs (mRNA). While cellular miRNAs regulate important biological processes such as cell growth and differentiation, and many miRNAs have been linked to cancer progression, the functions of EBV miRNAs are largely unknown. To identify targets of EBV miRNAs and cellular miRNAs in EBV-infected cells, we used a high-throughput method based on next-generation sequencing technology to give a global picture of miRNA-regulated gene expression. Our analysis showed that over 500 mRNAs can be regulated by viral miRNAs, many of which are directly relevant to EBV infection. This study provides a comprehensive survey of viral and cellular miRNA targets in B cells, which is a positive step towards identifying novel therapeutic targets for EBV-associated cancers.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002484
PMCID: PMC3266933  PMID: 22291592
14.  An ATM/Chk2-mediated DNA damage responsive signaling pathway suppresses Epstein-Barr virus transformation of primary human B cells 
Cell host & microbe  2010;8(6):510-522.
SUMMARY
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), an oncogenic herpesvirus that causes human malignancies, infects and immortalizes primary human B cells in vitro into indefinitely proliferating lymphoblastoid cell lines, which represent a model for EBV-induced tumorigenesis. The immortalization efficiency is very low suggesting that an innate tumor suppressor mechanism is operative. We identify the DNA damage response (DDR) as a major component of the underlying tumor suppressor mechanism. EBV-induced DDR activation was not due to lytic viral replication nor did the DDR marks co-localize with latent episomes. Rather, a transient period of EBV-induced hyper-proliferation correlated with DDR activation. Inhibition of the DDR kinases ATM and Chk2 markedly increased transformation efficiency of primary B cells. Further, the viral latent oncoproteins EBNA3C was required to attenuate the EBV-induced DNA damage response We propose that heightened oncogenic activity in early cell divisions activates a growth-suppressive DDR which is attenuated by viral latency products to induce cell immortalization.
doi:10.1016/j.chom.2010.11.004
PMCID: PMC3049316  PMID: 21147465
15.  Structure of Herpes Simplex Virus Glycoprotein D Bound to the Human Receptor Nectin-1 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(9):e1002277.
Binding of herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein D (gD) to a cell surface receptor is required to trigger membrane fusion during entry into host cells. Nectin-1 is a cell adhesion molecule and the main HSV receptor in neurons and epithelial cells. We report the structure of gD bound to nectin-1 determined by x-ray crystallography to 4.0 Å resolution. The structure reveals that the nectin-1 binding site on gD differs from the binding site of the HVEM receptor. A surface on the first Ig-domain of nectin-1, which mediates homophilic interactions of Ig-like cell adhesion molecules, buries an area composed by residues from both the gD N- and C-terminal extensions. Phenylalanine 129, at the tip of the loop connecting β-strands F and G of nectin-1, protrudes into a groove on gD, which is otherwise occupied by C-terminal residues in the unliganded gD and by N-terminal residues in the gD/HVEM complex. Notably, mutation of Phe129 to alanine prevents nectin-1 binding to gD and HSV entry. Together these data are consistent with previous studies showing that gD disrupts the normal nectin-1 homophilic interactions. Furthermore, the structure of the complex supports a model in which gD-receptor binding triggers HSV entry through receptor-mediated displacement of the gD C-terminal region.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002277
PMCID: PMC3182920  PMID: 21980294
16.  Virally Induced Cellular MicroRNA miR-155 Plays a Key Role in B-Cell Immortalization by Epstein-Barr Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(22):11670-11678.
Infection of resting primary human B cells by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) results in their transformation into indefinitely proliferating lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). LCL formation serves as a model for lymphomagenesis, and LCLs are phenotypically similar to EBV-positive diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs), which represent a common AIDS-associated malignancy. B-cell infection by EBV induces the expression of several cellular microRNAs (miRNAs), most notably miR-155, which is overexpressed in many tumors and can induce B-cell lymphomas when overexpressed in animals. Here, we demonstrate that miR-155 is the most highly expressed miRNA in LCLs and that the selective inhibition of miR-155 function specifically inhibits the growth of both LCLs and the DLBCL cell line IBL-1. Cells lacking miR-155 are inefficient in progressing through S phase and spontaneously undergo apoptosis. In contrast, three other B-cell lymphoma lines, including two EBV-positive Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines, grew normally in the absence of miR-155 function. These data identify the induction of cellular miR-155 expression by EBV as critical for the growth of both laboratory-generated LCLs and naturally occurring DLBCLs and suggest that targeted inhibition of miR-155 function could represent a novel approach to the treatment of DLBCL in vivo.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01248-10
PMCID: PMC2977875  PMID: 20844043
20.  Affinity maturation and characterization of a human monoclonal antibody against HIV-1 gp41 
mAbs  2009;1(5):462-474.
The human D5 monoclonal antibody binds to the highly conserved hydrophobic pocket on the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) trimer of HIV-1 gp41 and exhibits modest yet relatively broad neutralization activity. Both binding and neutralization depend on residues in the complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of the D5 IgG variable domains on heavy chain (VH) and light chain (VL). In an effort to increase neutralization activity to a wider range of HIV-1 strains, we have affinity matured the parental D5 scFv by randomizing selected residues in 5 of its 6 CDRs. The resulting scFv variants derived from four different CDR changes showed enhanced binding affinities to gp41 NHR mimetic (5-helix) which correlated to improved neutralization potencies by up to 8-fold. However, when converted to IgG1s, these D5 variants had up to a 12-fold reduction in neutralization potency over their corresponding scFvs despite their slightly enhanced in vitro binding affinities. Remarkably, D5 variant IgG1s bearing residue changes in CDRs that interact with epitope residues N-terminal to the hydrophobic pocket (such as VH CDR3 and VL CDR3) retained more neutralization potency than those containing residue changes in pocket-interacting CDRs (such as VH CDR2). These results provide compelling evidence for the existence of a steric block to an IgG that extends to the gp41 NHR hydrophobic pocket region, and can be a useful guide for developing therapeutic antibodies and vaccines circumventing this block.
PMCID: PMC2759496  PMID: 20065653
affinity maturation; monoclonal antibody; scFv; gp41; HIV-1; neutralization
21.  MDM2-Dependent Inhibition of p53 Is Required for Epstein-Barr Virus B-Cell Growth Transformation and Infected-Cell Survival▿ § 
Journal of Virology  2009;83(6):2491-2499.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) growth transformation of primary B lymphocytes into indefinitely proliferating lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) depends on the concerted activities of a subset of viral proteins expressed during latency. EBV drives quiescent B cells into S phase, and consequently, a host response is activated that includes expression of p53 and its target genes. Since LCLs retain wild-type p53, it was of interest to determine what contribution the p53 pathway may have in controlling established LCL growth and EBV-mediated transformation of primary B cells. We found that liberation of p53 through chemical antagonism of one of its major ubiquitin ligases, MDM2, using the small-molecule Nutlin-3 led to apoptosis of established LCLs and suppressed EBV-mediated transformation of primary B cells. The activation of latent p53 induced target genes associated with apoptosis. Furthermore, MDM2 antagonism synergized with NF-κB inhibition in killing LCLs. NF-κB was important to increase steady-state MDM2 protein levels rather than in affecting p53-dependent transcription, suggesting a unique mechanism by which LCLs survive in the presence of a primed p53 pathway. Nutlin sensitivity of EBV-infected cells provides a novel system for studying the pathways that dictate LCL survival and regulate EBV transformation. Finally, MDM2 antagonists may be considered for therapeutic intervention in EBV-associated malignancies expressing wild-type p53.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01681-08
PMCID: PMC2648290  PMID: 19144715

Results 1-21 (21)