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EBV EBNA 2 stimulates CDK9-dependent transcription and RNA polymerase II phosphorylation on serine 5

By S J Bark-Jones, H M Webb and M J West


EBNA 2 is one of only five viral genes essential for the infection and immortalization of human B cells by the cancer-associated virus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBNA 2 activates cellular and viral transcription and associates with components of the basal transcription apparatus and a number of coactivators. We provide the first evidence to show that the mechanism of transcriptional activation by EBNA 2 also involves phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II (pol II). We found that transcriptional activation by EBNA 2 was inhibited by a dominant-negative mutant of the pol II CTD kinase, CDK9, and by low concentrations of the CDK9 inhibitor 5, 6-dichloro-1-ß-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole. Moreover, using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays we demonstrated that EBNA 2 stimulates both pol II recruitment and pol II phosphorylation on serine 5 of the CTD in vivo. These results identify a new step in the transcription cycle that is subject to regulation by a key EBV-encoded transcription factor and highlight CDK9 inhibitors as potential anti-EBV agents

Year: 2006
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