Role of bcl-2 in Epstein-Barr Virus-Induced Malignant Conversion of Burkitt's Lymphoma Cell Line Akata


American Society for Microbiology


We have demonstrated that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) confers enhanced growth capability in soft agarose, tumorigenesis in the SCID mouse, and resistance to apoptosis in the Burkitt's lymphoma cell line Akata. Subsequently, we have shown that EBV-encoded small RNAs (EBERs) are responsible for these phenotypes. We constantly observed the upregulation of bcl-2 oncoprotein expression upon EBV infection and expression of EBERs. To test whether these phenotypes were due to the upregulation of bcl-2 expression, we introduced bcl-2 into EBV-negative Akata cells at various levels encompassing the range at which EBV-positive cells expressed it. As cells expressed bcl-2 at higher levels, they became more capable of growing in soft agarose and became resistant to apoptosis. However, clones expressing bcl-2 at a higher level than EBV-positive Akata cells were negative in the tumorigenesis assay in the SCID mouse. On the other hand, introduction of bax into EBV-positive Akata cells reduced the resistance to apoptosis; however, it failed to reduce the growth capability in soft agarose. These data indicate that EBV targets not only bcl-2, but also an unknown pathway(s) to enhance the oncogenic potential of Akata cells.

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