Sequence-Specific Methylation Inhibits the Activity of the Epstein-Barr Virus LMP 1 and BCR2 Enhancer-Promoter Regions

Janos Minarovits, Li Fu Hu, Susanna Minarovits Kormuta, George Klein, Ingemar Ernberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We reported earlier that variable expression of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) encoded membrane protein LMP 1 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma and the host-cell-phenotype-dependent activity of the BCR2 promoter (one of the possible initiator sites for transcripts of Epstein-Barr nuclear antigens) in Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL) lines can be related to the methylation status of the 5′-flanking regulatory regions of the BNLF 1 and BCR2 promoter, respectively. Here we report that clones of the BL line Mutu that differ in expression of LMP 1 also show a differential methylation pattern of the LMP 1 regulatory sequences: this region is hypomethylated in an LMP 1 expressing (group III) clone but methylated in a group I clone that does not express LMP 1. We introduced in vitro methylated reporter plasmids carrying BNLF 1 and BCR2 enhancer-promoter sequences into the BL line Raji and found that overall methylation of 5′-CG-3′ sequences by the Spiroplasma methylase SssI significantly reduced their activity compared to unmethylated or mock-methylated controls. Methylation of 5′-CCGG-3′ sequences by Hp all methyltransferase gave similar results. On the contrary, methylation of 5′-GCGC-3′ sequences by Hhal methyltransferase resulted only in a moderate reduction of BNLF 1 enhancer-promoter activity. These data support the notion that methylation at discrete sites within control regions of latent, growth-transformation associated EBV genes may contribute to silencing their expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71229
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 1994
Externally publishedYes


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