Identification of MEF2B, EBF1, and IL6R as Direct Gene Targets of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Nuclear Antigen 1 Critical for EBV-Infected B-Lymphocyte Survival.J Virol. 2016 01 01; 90(1):345-55.JV
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) is the EBV-encoded nuclear antigen and sequence-specific DNA binding protein required for viral origin binding and episome maintenance during latency. EBNA1 can also bind to numerous sites in the cellular genome and can provide a host cell survival function, but it is not yet known how EBNA1 sequence-specific binding is responsible for host cell survival. Here, we integrate EBNA1 chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) with transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) after EBNA1 depletion to identify cellular genes directly regulated by EBNA1 that are also essential for B-cell survival. We first compared EBNA1 ChIP-Seq patterns in four different EBV-positive cell types, including Burkitt lymphoma (BL) cells, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells, and lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). EBNA1 binds to ~1,000 sites that are mostly invariant among cell types and share a consensus recognition motif. We found that a large subset of EBNA1 binding sites are located proximal to transcription start sites and correlate genome-wide with transcription activity. EBNA1 bound to genes of high significance for B-cell growth and function, including MEF2B, IL6R, and EBF1. EBNA1 depletion from latently infected LCLs results in the loss of cell proliferation and the loss of gene expression for some EBNA1-bound genes, including MEF2B, EBF1, and IL6R. Depletion of MEF2B, EBF1, or IL6R partially phenocopies EBNA1 depletion by decreasing the cell growth and viability of cells latently infected with EBV. These findings suggest that EBNA1 binds to a large cohort of cellular genes important for cell viability and implicates EBNA1 as a critical regulator of transcription of host cell genes important for enhanced survival of latently infected cells.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent infection is responsible for a variety of lymphoid and epithelial cell malignancies. EBNA1 is the EBV-encoded nuclear antigen that is consistently expressed in all EBV-associated cancers. EBNA1 is known to provide a host cell survival function, but the mechanism is not known. EBNA1 is a sequence-specific binding protein important for viral genome maintenance during latency. Here, by integrating ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq, we demonstrate that EBNA1 binds directly to the promoter regulatory regions and upregulates the transcription of host genes that are important for the survival of EBV-infected cells. Identification of EBNA1 target genes provides potential new targets for therapeutic intervention in EBV-associated disease.