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Epstein-Barr Virus Immortalization of Human B-Cells Leads to Stabilization of Hypoxia-Induced Factor 1 Alpha, Congruent with the Warburg Effect
Published: Friday, July 27, 2012
Author: Suhas Darekar et al.

by Suhas Darekar, Konstantinos Georgiou, Mariya Yurchenko, Surya Pavan Yenamandra, Georgia Chachami, George Simos, George Klein, Elena Kashuba


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) encodes six nuclear transformation-associated proteins that induce extensive changes in cellular gene expression and signaling and induce B-cell transformation. The role of HIF1A in EBV-induced B-cell immortalization has not been previously studied.

Methods and Findings

Using Western blotting and Q-PCR, we found that HIF1A protein is stabilized in EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cells. Western blotting, GST pulldown assays, and immunoprecipitation showed that EBV-encoded nuclear antigens EBNA-5 and EBNA-3 bind to prolylhydroxylases 1 and 2, respectively, thus inhibiting HIF1A hydroxylation and degradation. Immunostaining and Q-PCR showed that the stabilized HIF1A translocates to the nucleus, forms a heterodimer with ARNT, and transactivates several genes involved in aerobic glycolysis. Using biochemical assays and Q-PCR, we also found that lymphoblastoid cells produce high levels of lactate, lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate.


Our data suggest that activation of the aerobic glycolytic pathway, corresponding to the Warburg effect, occurs in EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cells, in contrast to mitogen-activated B-cells.