PloS one

Upregulation of the cell-cycle regulator RGC-32 in Epstein-Barr virus-immortalized cells.

PMID 22163048


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple human tumours of lymphoid and epithelial origin. The virus infects and immortalizes B cells establishing a persistent latent infection characterized by varying patterns of EBV latent gene expression (latency 0, I, II and III). The CDK1 activator, Response Gene to Complement-32 (RGC-32, C13ORF15), is overexpressed in colon, breast and ovarian cancer tissues and we have detected selective high-level RGC-32 protein expression in EBV-immortalized latency III cells. Significantly, we show that overexpression of RGC-32 in B cells is sufficient to disrupt G2 cell-cycle arrest consistent with activation of CDK1, implicating RGC-32 in the EBV transformation process. Surprisingly, RGC-32 mRNA is expressed at high levels in latency I Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells and in some EBV-negative BL cell-lines, although RGC-32 protein expression is not detectable. We show that RGC-32 mRNA expression is elevated in latency I cells due to transcriptional activation by high levels of the differentially expressed RUNX1c transcription factor. We found that proteosomal degradation or blocked cytoplasmic export of the RGC-32 message were not responsible for the lack of RGC-32 protein expression in latency I cells. Significantly, analysis of the ribosomal association of the RGC-32 mRNA in latency I and latency III cells revealed that RGC-32 transcripts were associated with multiple ribosomes in both cell-types implicating post-initiation translational repression mechanisms in the block to RGC-32 protein production in latency I cells. In summary, our results are the first to demonstrate RGC-32 protein upregulation in cells transformed by a human tumour virus and to identify post-initiation translational mechanisms as an expression control point for this key cell-cycle regulator.