Repression of Hox genes by LMP1 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma and modulation of glycolytic pathway genes by HoxC8

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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes human lymphoid malignancies, and the EBV product latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) has been identified as an oncogene in epithelial carcinomas such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). EBV can epigenetically reprogram lymphocyte-specific processes and induce cell immortalization. However, the interplay between LMP1 and the NPC host cell remains largely unknown. Here, we report that LMP1 is important to establish the Hox gene expression signature in NPC cell lines and tumor biopsies. LMP1 induces repression of several Hox genes in part via stalling of RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II). Pol II stalling can be overcome by irradiation involving the epigenetic regulator TET3. Furthermore, we report that HoxC8, one of the genes silenced by LMP1, has a role in tumor growth. Ectopic expression of HoxC8 inhibits NPC cell growth in vitro and in vivo, modulates glycolysis and regulates the expression of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle-related genes. We propose that viral latency products may repress via stalling key mediators that in turn modulate glycolysis.

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