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Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 3C interacts with and enhances the stability of the c-Myc oncoprotein
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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was the first human DNA virus to be associated with cancer. Its oncogenic potential was further demonstrated by its ability to transform primary B lymphocytes in vitro. EBV nuclear antigen 3C (EBNA3C) is one of a small subset of latent antigens critical for the transformation of human primary B lymphocytes. Although EBNA3C has been shown to modulate several cellular functions, additional targets involved in cellular transformation remain to be explored. EBNA3C can recruit key components of the SCF(Skp2) ubiquitin ligase complex. In this report, we show that EBNA3C residues 130 to 190, previously shown to bind to the SCF(Skp2) complex, also can strongly associate with the c-Myc oncoprotein. Additionally, the interaction of EBNA3C with c-Myc was mapped to the region of c-Myc that includes the highly conserved Skp2 binding domain. Skp2 has been shown to regulate c-Myc stability and also has been shown to function as a coactivator of transcription for c-Myc target genes. We now show that the EBV latent oncoprotein EBNA3C can stabilize c-Myc and that the recruitment of both c-Myc and its cofactor Skp2 to c-Myc-dependent promoters can enhance c-Myc-dependent transcription. This same region of EBNA3C also recruits and modulates the activity of retinoblastoma and p27, both major regulators of the mammalian cell cycle. The inclusion of c-Myc in the group of cellular targets modulated by this domain further accentuates the importance of these critical residues of EBNA3C in bypassing the cell cycle checkpoints.