The human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) E1B 55-kDa protein modulates several cellular processes, including activation of the tumor suppressor p53. Binding of the E1B protein to the activation domain of p53 inhibits p53-dependent transcription. This activity has been correlated with the transforming activity of the E1B protein, but its contribution to viral replication is not well understood. To address this issue, we used microarray hybridization methods to examine cellular gene expression in normal human fibroblasts (HFFs) infected by Ad5, the E1B 55-kDa-protein-null mutant Hr6, or a mutant carrying substitutions that impair repression of p53-dependent transcription. Comparison of the changes in cellular gene expression observed in these and our previous experiments (D. L. Miller et al., Genome Biol. 8:R58, 2007) by significance analysis of microarrays indicated excellent reproducibility. Furthermore, we again observed that Ad5 infection led to efficient reversal of the p53-dependent transcriptional program. As this same response was also induced in cells infected by the two mutants, we conclude that the E1B 55-kDa protein is not necessary to block activation of p53 in Ad5-infected cells. However, groups of cellular genes that were altered in expression specifically in the absence of the E1B protein were identified by consensus k-means clustering of the hybridization data. Statistical analysis of the enrichment of genes associated with specific functions in these clusters established that the E1B 55-kDa protein is necessary for repression of genes encoding proteins that mediate antiviral and immune defenses
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