Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus by HIF-1α Requires p53.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

We previously reported that the cellular transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) binds a hypoxia response element (HRE) located within the promoter of Epstein-Barr virus's (EBV's) latent-lytic switch BZLF1 gene, Zp, inducing viral reactivation. In this study, EBV-infected cell lines derived from gastric cancers and Burkitt lymphomas were incubated with HIF-1α-stabilizing drugs: the iron chelator deferoxamine (Desferal [DFO]), a neddylation inhibitor (pevonedistat [MLN-4924]), and a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (roxadustat [FG-4592]). DFO and MLN-4924, but not FG-4592, induced accumulation of both lytic EBV proteins and phosphorylated p53 in cell lines that contain a wild-type p53 gene. FG-4592 also failed to activate transcription from Zp in a reporter assay despite inducing accumulation of HIF-1α and transcription from another HRE-containing promoter. Unexpectedly, DFO failed to induce EBV reactivation in cell lines that express mutant or no p53 or when p53 expression was knocked down with short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs). Likewise, HIF-1α failed to activate transcription from Zp when p53 was knocked out by CRISPR-Cas9. Importantly, DFO induced binding of p53 as well as HIF-1α to Zp in chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, but only when the HRE was present. Nutlin-3, a drug known to induce accumulation of phosphorylated p53, synergized with DFO and MLN-4924 in inducing EBV reactivation. Conversely, KU-55933, a drug that inhibits ataxia telangiectasia mutated, thereby preventing p53 phosphorylation, inhibited DFO-induced EBV reactivation. Lastly, activation of Zp transcription by DFO and MLN-4924 mapped to its HRE. Thus, we conclude that induction of BZLF1 gene expression by HIF-1α requires phosphorylated, wild-type p53 as a coactivator, with HIF-1α binding recruiting p53 to Zp.IMPORTANCE EBV, a human herpesvirus, is latently present in most nasopharyngeal carcinomas, Burkitt lymphomas, and some gastric cancers. To develop a lytic-induction therapy for treating patients with EBV-associated cancers, we need a way to efficiently reactivate EBV into lytic replication. EBV's BZLF1 gene product, Zta, usually controls this reactivation switch. We previously showed that HIF-1α binds the BZLF1 gene promoter, inducing Zta synthesis, and HIF-1α-stabilizing drugs can induce EBV reactivation. In this study, we determined which EBV-positive cell lines are reactivated by classes of HIF-1α-stabilizing drugs. We found, unexpectedly, that HIF-1α-stabilizing drugs only induce reactivation when they also induce accumulation of phosphorylated, wild-type p53. Fortunately, p53 phosphorylation can also be provided by drugs such as nutlin-3, leading to synergistic reactivation of EBV. These findings indicate that some HIF-1α-stabilizing drugs may be helpful as part of a lytic-induction therapy for treating patients with EBV-positive malignancies that contain wild-type p53.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kraus, RJ; Cordes, B-LA; Sathiamoorthi, S; Patel, P; Yuan, X; Iempridee, T; Yu, X; Lee, DL; Lambert, PF; Mertz, JE

Published Date

  • August 31, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 94 / 18

PubMed ID

  • 32641480

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7459560

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-5514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1128/JVI.00722-20


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States