Suppression of the LMP2A target gene,EGR-1, protects Hodgkin's lymphoma cells from entry to the EBV lytic cycle

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Hodgkin's lymphoma is unusual among B cell lymphomas, in so far as the malignant Hodgkin/Reed–Sternberg (HRS) cells lack a functional B cell receptor (BCR), as well as many of the required downstream signalling components. In Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-positive cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma, HRS cells express the viral latent membrane proteins (LMP)-1 and -2A. LMP2A is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of Hodgkin's lymphoma by providing a surrogate BCR-like survival signal. However, LMP2A has also been shown to induce the virus-replicative cycle in B cells, an event presumably incompatible with lymphomagenesis. In an attempt to resolve this apparent paradox, we compared the transcriptional changes observed in primary HRS cells with those induced by LMP2A and by BCR activation in primary human germinal centre (GC) B cells, the presumed progenitors of HRS cells. We found a subset of genes that were up-regulated by both LMP2A expression and BCR activation but which were down-regulated in primary HRS cells. These genes includedEGR1, an immediate-early gene that is required for BCR-induced entry to the virus-replicative cycle. We present data supporting a model for the pathogenesis of EBV-positive Hodgkin's lymphoma in which LMP2A-expressing HRS cells lacking BCR signalling functions cannot induceEGR1and are consequently protected from entry to the virus lytic cycle. The primary microarray data are available from GEO ( under series Accession No 46143.

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