Both Epstein-Barr viral nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2) and activated Notch transactivate genes by interacting with the transcription factor RBP-Jκ. The viral protein EBNA2 may hence be regarded as a functional equivalent of an activated Notch receptor. Until now, nothing has been known about the physiological role of Notch signaling in B cells. Here we investigated whether activated Notch can induce the same phenotypic changes as EBNA2 in Burkitt's lymphoma cells. An estrogen receptor fusion protein of the intracellular part of mouse Notch 1 (mNotch1-IC), mimicking in the presence of estrogen a constitutively active Notch receptor, was stably transfected into the Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines BL41-P3HR1 and HH514. Northern blot analysis revealed that the LMP2A gene is induced by Notch-IC in the presence of estrogen, whereas increased expression of LMP1 could be detected only if cycloheximide was simultaneously added. Concerning the cellular genes regulated by EBNA2, Notch-IC was able to upregulate CD21 but not CD23 expression. Immunoglobulin μ (Igμ) expression, which is downregulated by EBNA2, was also negatively regulated by Notch-IC. Similarly to EBNA2, Notch-IC was able to repress c-myc expression, which is under the control of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus in Burkitt's lymphoma cells with a t(8;14) translocation. The data show that Notch-IC is able to participate in gene regulation in B cells
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