Linkage between STAT regulation and Epstein-Barr virus gene expression in tumors

J Virol. 2001 Mar;75(6):2929-37. doi: 10.1128/JVI.75.6.2929-2937.2001.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latency gene expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines is regulated by EBNA2. However, the factors regulating viral expression in EBV-associated tumors that do not express EBNA2 are poorly understood. In EBV-associated tumors, EBNA1 and frequently LMP1 are synthesized. We found that an alternative latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) promoter, L1-TR, located within the terminal repeats is active in both nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Hodgkin's disease tissues. Examination of the L1-TR and the standard ED-L1 LMP1 promoters in electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed that both promoters contain functional STAT binding sites. Further, both LMP1 promoters responded in reporter assays to activation of JAK-STAT signaling. Cotransfection of JAK1 or v-Src or treatment of cells with the cytokine interleukin-6 upregulated expression from ED-L1 and L1-TR reporter plasmids. Cotransfection of a dominant negative STAT3 beta revealed that STAT3 is likely to be the biologically relevant STAT for EBNA1 Qp and LMP1 L1-TR promoter regulation. In contrast, LMP1 expression from ED-L1 was not abrogated by STAT3 beta, indicating that the two LMP1 promoters are regulated by different STAT family members. Taken together with the previous demonstration of JAK-STAT activation of Qp driven EBNA1 expression, this places two of the EBV genes most commonly expressed in tumors under the control of the same signal transduction pathway. Immunohistochemical analyses of nasopharyngeal carcinoma tumors revealed that STAT3, STAT5, and STAT1 are constitutively activated in these tumors while STAT3 is constitutively activated in the malignant cells of Hodgkin's disease. We hypothesize that chronic or aberrant STAT activation may be both a necessary and predisposing event for EBV-driven tumorigenesis in immunocompetent individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / metabolism
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / pathogenicity
  • Hodgkin Disease / metabolism
  • Hodgkin Disease / virology*
  • Humans
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Latency


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EBV-associated membrane antigen, Epstein-Barr virus
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases